Publisher: Killer Reads (HarperCollins imprint)
Author: Alex Day
Date published: August 2017
Format of book read: e-book. Thanks to the publisher for my copy, via Netgalley.
With each chapter of The Missing Twin I became more and more engaged, wondering what on earth was going on and just how the two protagonists might overcome their ever-worsening difficulties. The novel is carefully constructed; it consists of two storylines that appear at first to be unrelated, told in alternating chapters from the points of view of two young women in very different situations.
Edie, a middle-class English girl in her 20s, works in a Croatian resort as a cleaner/bar-hand. In her time off she enjoys freediving (swimming underwater while holding one’s breath). She is treading water in life, however, having given up on various possible careers and is besotted by a guy at work who clearly cares nothing for her. Fatima, in contrast, is married with two daughters and lives in an unnamed, war-torn country. Apart from being a similar age (and that Edie is a twin and Fatima is the mother of twins), about the only thing they have in common is that both face a crisis in their lives early on in the novel which brings them into life-threatening danger, forcing each to re-evaluate their lives and what is truly important.
It is particularly difficult to say much about the plot without giving away crucial information. One of the most memorable things about The Missing Twin is the rug-pulling twist close to the end, which puts a lot of earlier things into perspective. (Clever title, too.) Suffice to say, Edie comes to believe that her twin (Laura) who suddenly disappears has been the victim of something sinister, possibly connected with the resort. Edie feels compelled to investigate with the intention of finding Laura. Fatima’s crisis begins with losing her husband and her house during a rocket attack; she sees little choice but to flee her devastated homeland with her daughters to seek a new life.
Early on in the book, I admit, I did wonder about Edie – why she was doing such a dead-end job and why she was so preoccupied with Vuk, another resort worker. He seems to see her in purely sexual terms (he doesn’t even give her a good time in bed!) and is obviously not on her side. That’s not to say the ‘relationship’ wasn’t believable – many girls fall for the bad guy, after all – just that early on, when we had very little background information about Edie, I found it hard to understand what was in her head. But this changed over the course of the novel, as her character develops.
Both the Fatima and Edie threads of the plot are infused with suspense by around the halfway point, and the tension ramps up in the second half with quite a few pageturning scenes and some chilling, hold-your-breath moments. The separate storylines intersect satisfyingly close to the end.
The novel portrays the plight of refugees exceedingly well, showing how they are exploited by people seemingly able to carry on their activities with impunity. The journey towards the promised land of Europe that Fatima makes is full of peril – what she has to endure on the way felt horrifyingly real to me. In a short time, she goes from being a high-status wife and mother in an affluent household to a woman with virtually nothing except herself and her daughters.
This was an entertaining and emotionally involving read. A successful dive into the realm of the thriller for Alex Day, in my view – one with strong social elements as well as the psychological. Re the final twist, I wouldn’t be surprised if this divides readers… But I’ll say no more about that and let you make up their own mind!
Note: Not long ago I featured an interview with Alex Day on psychological thrillers. Ms Day writes novels in another genre under another name; this is her first thriller.
A unique, exciting psychological thriller that will tug at your heartstrings, and keep you guessing until the very last page! Perfect for fans of Teresa Driscoll and Shari Lapena.
A missing girl…a secret to be uncovered.
Edie and her identical twin Laura have always been best friends. So when Laura surprises Edie at the Mediterranean holiday resort where she’s working, Edie can’t wait for the partying to start! But then, Laura vanishes without a trace…
At the same time, in a country on the other side of the sea, Fatima and her twin daughters set out on a harrowing journey that only the strongest – and luckiest – survive.
Edie and Fatima’s lives are worlds apart, but now, their paths are set to collide, with devastating consequences. When Fatima hovers on the brink of survival, Edie must risk her own life to save her, and finally discover the truth about her missing sister.
The Missing Twin on Amazon UK