Author: Jem Tugwell
Publisher: Serpentine Books
Date of Publication: January 14th 2021
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Number of pages: 259
WE’RE ALL ONE MISTAKE FROM RUIN…
Dan has worked hard for the perfect life. He has a loving wife, beautiful kids, a fabulous home and is a successful businessman.
One afternoon Dan steps onto his usual train and sees the waitress who served him an hour earlier. It all seemed so normal, but it was the most dreadful mistake. Four stops later, Dan is a criminal who has lost everything. He’d only just met her, so why did she destroy him—and why did she say ‘Sorry’?
Dan battles through a web of lies and deceit to clear his name and win his life back, but first, he needs to find out who plotted his downfall.
‘The inspiration behind the story came from reading articles on how unexpected events can make someone’s world unravel. It struck me just how fragile all of our lives really are. It could happen to any of us. All it would take is one mistake.’ —Jem Tugwell
I discovered Jem Tugwell through his iMe series, and from the first pages, I knew he would become one of my favorite and go-to authors. Three book later, I can confirm each book is a hit!
Dishonoured is a standalone. Tell me say this again. A cracking standalone that delivers with an excellent writing! Before I discuss anything else, let’s stay on this subject for a while. Fiction is broadly divided into commercial and literary. The lines between those categories have begun blurring for many reasons, one being that readers are now looking for words that reach them right through the heart without but without needing a dictionary to understand metaphors and images! It can be tricky for some genres to get that literary feeling. Sometimes, when I pick a thriller, I just want action, a great mystery, and good characters. As long as the writing takes me there, all is fine. However, the more I read, the more I look for those talented (I won’t say gifted as I believe writing doesn’t come naturally. It requires too much work to think it is an inborn ability.) authors who can blend a genre, any genre, with the kind of narrative style that stay with you, whispers to your ears, create a vivid movie in your mind. Louise Jensen is a wonderful author who has mastered this art, and I am quite happy to say that Jem Tugwell has a knack for choosing his words so they have an powerful lasting impact!
So, now that we agree that the writing style alone is gold and a reason why you should get the book, let’s get to heart of Dishonoured.
Do you believe in fate? Bad luck? Those were the questions spinning in my head as I read about Dan. Perfect guy with a perfect life. Ha. Perfect should be banned from our vocabulary. Dan is pretty happy with his lot, a great job and more money that anyone needs, a wife and two kids, great partners, a house.
Don’t we say the higher the climb, the harder the fall?
How long do you think it takes for a life to crumble? Jem Tugwell reminds us it does not take long at all. One moment. One tiny moment. One crazy moment when time stops, and the worst happens. We do not spend a lot of time with happy Dan. We get a glimpse of his life and then we are propelled into the darkness. I have read many stories where lives unravel and characters hit rock bottom, but it never hit as much as it did for Dan. A snap of the finger and he’s in the gutter, so to speak. I found the way the author managed to make me care of a man in a few pages absolutely outstanding. Dan’s fate becomes darker with every page, but a twisted instinct mixed with an addictive (virtual) pen kept me reading. Emotions were surging – the unfairness of it all, the pain of seeing what you built be stolen from you, the anger. Every time I thought it could not possibly get worse, I was proved wrong! Jem Tugwell kept digging, but not without motivation. I never felt Dan was purely used to provide sadistic pleasure! In fact, the thicker the darkness, the better if felt when one light, then another, appeared. Yes, it does take time, but when you get punched over and over again for some time, you don’t see the end of the tunnel right away!
Dan gets a shot a discovering where it went wrong, and why. On this I will not say much except that the realism of his journey, the introduction of new characters, and the full shape of this part of the novel were strong and made sure I was getting more and more attached to the protagonists and their fate. I was fighting for justice too!
Now I am going to use a word that many of us are tired of. Twist. I know, I know! But hear me out. This book is filled with bumps in the road, sharp corners, a sense of threat, and many moments that surprised me. I really enjoyed the ride, as nothing was too far-fetched or added for the sake of drama. The simple fact everything in this novel could happen and create a domino effect that ruins a whole life is frightening, and it makes Dishonoured such a gripping story. Then, a big WHAT?! moment appeared out of nowhere. I mean it in the best possible way. I didn’t see it coming, but it was entirely plausible, totally unpredictable, absolutely AMAZING. One of those seconds when you go ‘wait, wait, what, no? Yes? YES!’ I am reluctant to call it a twist. Let’s call it a freaking hurricane! A storm that changed my entire views on everything I’d read so far. I couldn’t believe I’d been fooled this way. Will you?
Side note, if you’re read the iMe series, you’ll be happy to see a character make an appearance!
In a nutshell, Dishonoured is a high-quality thriller novel about what a split second can do and how the wheel of fate always turns…
It’s PUBLICATION DAY, grab your copy!
My biggest thanks to Serpentine Books and Raquel for kindly providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.