Try not to breathe by Holly Seddon
Corvus Books – 97817823967
Three narrators. A terrible crime. A central character with a close relationship to Alcohol. So far, so The Girl on The Train. There is however a lot more to Holly Seddon’s debut crime novel/ psychological thrillers than judicious good timing, and some lazy marketing hype.
Alex is a writer, recovering from a painful divorce. Amy has been in a coma for fifteen years, the victim of an unsolved crime. Jacob was Amy’s boyfriend at the time of her accident. He visits her every week, but his wife thinks he is having an affair.
Into this complicated character stew, we see various similarities between the characters. Alex, Amy and Jacob are all the same age, and would have known the same people, had the same cultural frames of reference growing up, and as Alex investigates the crime, selling the story to one of the few publishers her drinking didn’t disgust, she gains some momentum back. Amy has been in a coma, but her memories of the crime are still in there, and as Alex spends more and more time with Amy, she becomes convinced that she will soon come out of the comfort of her coma, and into a world that is full of brand new, frightening realities.
As Alex’s investigations continues, she places herself in more and more danger, her drinking in abeyance, even though her Doctor tells her if she doesn’t stop, she will be dead within the year, and when she finally pieces all of the facts together, both her life, and that of Jacob and his family will never be the same again.
The book moves along at a cracking pace, but with plenty of detail to take the reader further into the story. The trick of the three narrative strands is very well handled, allowing the stories to be seen from more than one perspective. Although at more than 350 pages, it could have been added down, with some superfluous padding removed, the characters, and the amount of medical research in the book means that Holly Seddon is a definite name to watch out for.