[yasr_overall_rating]

Alison lives in London. She has a job in a publishing house and a boyfriend. She also has a couple of friends but she mostly keeps herself to herself, she likes her anonymity. The reason for this discreet personality is buried in her past. Alison used to be Esme. She used to live in Saltleigh, on the coast. She used to have parents, a big brother and twin sisters, younger than her. They are all dead, shot in their own home, the “crooked house”, when Esme was a teenager. She was in her room that night, but she does not remember much. She wasn’t supposed to be there, which is probably why she survived…

One day, her boyfriend Paul is invited to a wedding in Saltleigh, and he insists on Alison’s presence by his side. Can Alison go back to the place where tragedy struck? Can she confront her past and resurface unscathed?

As the story progresses, Alison/Esme is faced with a growing sense of dread, she feels threatened all the time as she meets faces from her past. It is soon obvious that she is recognised by some and not welcomed in the town where she spent her childhood. People would rather be left alone, and their secrets buried. As she confronts her childhood friend, her brother’s friends, or her first boyfriend, memories return. But soon, the present and the past merge, and she realises that the threat might be all around her, she doesn’t know who to trust anymore…

From the beginning, I liked the atmosphere of this novel, the impression of impending danger, the confusion the heroine finds herself in, as the boundaries blur between the past and the present, as Alison/Esme retrieves parts of her past from her memories or confessions from people who were there. My complaint is that the action dragged a little bit in the last part of the novel, before the final twist, as Alison is on the verge of a big breakthrough. I also found the motivation of the killer a little weak.

All in all an atmospheric, suspenseful, gripping novel…