Author: Elizabeth Heathcote
Release date: September 1st 2016
A dead woman is brought onto the beach by the sea and found by a little girl and her mother.
Miles from there, happily married Carmen and Tom live in the city. What is the link?
No need to grill me, I admit this book is a cover choice. That blue is mesmerizing. Now that I think of it, I could have picked it for Halloween, and not just because of the cover. If some of us find happiness in magic worlds or intergalactic wars, I get all the feelings from psychological thrillers. I ain’t scared of monsters! Except when they look and sound like your husband.
Carmen is finally happy. She almost has it all. A nice apartment in London, a handsome and caring husband, and step kids to take care of on weekends. Yes, she was made redundant because of the economic crisis but free time is a good thing, right? Well, it depends on what you do with all those hours.
The worst had happened and all was calm and all was clean.
The perfect blended family and couple bliss image take a hit when a remark by a strange about a murder makes Carmen think about her husband Tom’s past. It all happens quite early in the book, and from that moment on, I could not put it down. Tom had confessed it all to Carmen a long time ago. How his marriage had ended, how he had met Her, younger, beautiful, how he used to take her to St Jude’s just like they did now with the kids, how she had gone missing and been found later, dead on the beach. But knowing about it does not mean you are not curious.
For once, there is no big secret hovering over heads and fears of a happy bubble exploding. Many elements are in the open air, known to the main character, and when I thought it would only take the thrill away, I was proven wrong. How so wrong! Knowing a truth does not mean you know the whole truth, and this is what the book is about. How much do you say to make people believe you? How much do you keep hidden, stored away in a box? And why is the entire story better left unsaid? These are the questions I kept asking myself while devouring chapter after chapter. I was growing more curious with every page while Carmen was getting more puzzled with every hour.
One remark, it is all it takes to create a doubt. Suddenly words turn into doubts, and your mind won’t snap out of it. A word, a look, a question unanswered, and a woman’s mind goes wild. One thing leading to another and before you realize it you are making every possible scenario in your head. From there goes the snowball effect. I am not saying we all are crazy paranoid beings ready to jump on our better halves at the first sign of something sketchy (says the girl who made a scene about a lipstick stain on a towel before noticing she was wearing the same shade of lipstick on her lips that same day… :p) But the right circumstances and a series of details can lead to something so much bigger than you could ever imagine.
The shady husband trope is my thing. Husbands make for the perfect suspect, and Tom is a brilliant lawyer, a loving father, and a wonderful character to doubt.
How quickly life swallowed death.
I love that Carmen’s suspicions are all based on substantial details, leaving the reader questioning her mindset and sanity. Is it okay to erase something from a computer? I do it every day, does that make me a killer? Is forgetting to mention something a lie? I warmed to Carmen very early on, when her life was all about what to eat and how to keep the kids busy, and it was very interesting to see the impact of the events on her decisions and actions. Every character is portrayed in a way that makes them real, sometimes relatable, sometimes despicable, but always real. Tom and the children are no simple secondary characters, and the family ties are strongly represented, giving the story a heavier tone. After all, all families are complicated!
So many questions came in waves as I was scrabbling to reach the end. I doubted everything, and even though I managed to get a couple of answers before the end, the steady pace kept me on my toes and the race of the last pages left me breathless.
Undertow is a strong psychological thriller using our deepest fears and playing with the —sometimes blind — trust we put in others. It will make you think twice about what you think you know and keep you turning pages long after curfew!
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review