When I picked up HE SAID, SHE SAID, a psychological thriller by international bestseller Erin Kelly, the premise reminded me of a time in my life back when Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead were touring together.
Leaving said concert one summer night, I was looking for a discreet place to relieve myself before the long drive home. A mature weeping willow tree seemed to be just the place.
Yeah, until I stumbled on a couple having sex under the protective screen of the hanging branches. My bad.
And that is the premise that gets Kelly’s latest book off the ground. A young couple leaving a festival stumbles upon another couple having sex.
Except it looks a lot more like rape than consensual sex. And that changes everything.
Title is linked to Amazon and there are no spoilers ahead:
Let’s back up the hippie bus a moment.
Apparently, there’s a subculture of eclipse-chasers out there who stage and attend music festivals to celebrate the celestial events. Young lovers, Kit and Laura, are two of those attendees.
Kit’s an Oxford-educated scientist who is an eclipse-fanatic. Laura studied Women’s Issues in college and sees men through that rigid lens. Still, something about Kit draws Laura. And he’s mad about her–she’s the first girl who has given him the time of day.
Until she becomes consumed by reporting the rape and standing by victim Beth for better or for worse.
What follows is a trial, a friendship, a secret, and growing concerns that something is not as it seems.
The years pass. Laura and Kit’s relationship matures.
But the repercussions of that one night at the eclipse festival force the two of them to go off the grid and live in hiding.
That means no social media. No online presence. No public career. They even have to change their names.
No good deed goes unpunished, eh?
Still, the threat of danger doesn’t keep Kit and Laura from chasing eclipses. Even with Beth stalking them.
Because what’s a psychological thriller without some astronomical phenomena–and some sex, drugs and rock and roll to boot.
This book is a S-L-O-W read. Set in London, mostly, it alternates between Laura and Kit as narrators across a sixteen-year period that pings and pongs back and forth.
The book is subdivided into eclipse-themed sections: First Contact, Second Contact, Totality, Third Contact, and Fourth Contact. Page one defines each of these phases.
Still, for a reader who is not an astronomer, the sections meant nothing to me. It was enough to plow through the first two-hundred and some pages of this story without going back to see what the whole moon thing was all about on page one.
I actually forgot about the references on the first page. Probably because the first two-hundred and some pages are pretty tedious. I mean, Kit and Laura weren’t even in the same country for about half of this half.
The book picked up around midway through, and then I was more inspired to read on.
Erin Kelly is a good writer. There’s a reason she’s translated into seventeen languages.
Plus, she’s known for delivering the killer twist that readers will not see coming. And yes, she did deliver that for me. But at a price.
I finished this book not really liking any of the characters very much. And I liked the ending even less.
That being said, if you’re looking for a last minute Christmas gift for someone you don’t really like very much, then get them this book.
And then tell them you can’t wait to talk about it with them…remind them every time you see them…
“You finished with that book yet? Can’t wait to get your opinion on it.”
They will avoid you for the rest of the upcoming year. You’re welcome.
Foxy Rating Scale: (Two out of Five Foxes)
Here’s hoping you find a thrill in your Christmas stocking. One that keeps you up at night.
Turning pages, that is.