Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
Published in: 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Dear Amy
This ARC was provided by Penguin UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Amazon:
In Helen Callaghan’s chilling, tightly-spun debut novel of psychological suspense, a teenage girl’s abduction stirs dark memories of a twenty-year-old cold case…
Margot Lewis is a teacher at an exclusive high school in the English university town of Cambridge. In her spare time, she writes an advice column, “Dear Amy”, for the local newspaper.
When one of Margot’s students, fifteen-year-old Katie, disappears, the school and the town fear the worst. And then Margot gets a “Dear Amy” letter unlike any of the ones she’s received before. It’s a desperate plea for rescue from a girl who says she is being held captive and in terrible danger—a girl called Bethan Avery, who was abducted from the local area twenty years ago…and never found.
The letter matches a sample of Bethan’s handwriting that the police have kept on file since she vanished, and this shocking development in an infamous cold case catches the attention of criminologist Martin Forrester, who has been trying to find out what happened to her all those years ago. Spurred on by her concern for both Katie and the mysterious Bethan, Margot sets out—with Martin’s help—to discover if the two cases are connected.
But then Margot herself becomes a target.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: Isn’t it nice to have a psychological thriller that is not called the next Gone Girl or Girl on a Train? That was my first thought when I read about this book. Dear Amy is indeed a strong departure from those books. Unfortunately, the problem with reviewing thrillers is there is very little you can say without giving away major plot points. So I am going to keep this review really general and let you discover the plot for yourselves.
First of all, I’m not sure that I can call this book a thriller since the “twist,” which was revealed halfway through the book, was so obvious it practically hit you in the face. This made me think that the twist wasn’t intended to be the most important factor of the story. What is important in the novel, is what happens to the main characters and how they change and cope with life after the big reveal.
The book has an interesting, if somewhat totally unbelievable, premise so the more cynical reader will struggle to appreciate it. I did like the protagonist, Margot, and felt that she was doing the best she could with the cards she had been dealt. As such, I was engaged in her storyline and invested in her outcome. What really confused me was a leap in the last section of the book and how Margot ended up where she did. I was almost expecting it to end with those immortal words “and then she woke up.”
So who would like this book? If you like fast-paced thrillers with twists that keep you guessing until the end, this isn’t the book for you. In contrast, if you like your mysteries to be like slower paced character studies that deal with the aftermath of horrific events, then this is probably worth a read. This is not a very believable or realistic book so if you like your fiction to be believable you would probably be screaming throughout this book: “that would never happen!”
Want to try it for yourself? The book is currently only out in the U.K. It will be released in the US in October of this year. You can preorder your copy here: Dear Amy
We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Which books make it into your top ten list of contemporary thrillers?