Twenty years ago, the disappearance of an Oxford College student, Helena Warner, prompted detective Driver to interview three of her friends very closely: her boyfriend Ian Gilmore, her best friend Joan Poole and Ian’s roommate and art student Richard Wachmann, who were with her the night she disappeared. Unfortunately, no corpse ever turned up. The house where Driver suspects Helena died was submerged in the water of a reservoir soon after the disappearance of Helena, and Driver is convinced that her boyfriend Ian has killed her and buried her in the marsh. With no corpse and because of the solid alibis provided by Joan and Richard for Ian, Driver had to let go of the case…

Twenty years later, divers find a body in the reservoir: it was in a cupboard, in one of the rooms of the submerged house. The body is Helena’s, and Detective Rigby reopens the old case. Soon afterwards, another body is found in a barn… Will Joan, Ian and Richard, who have kept a secret for so long, finally break the silence and talk to the police? And with the threat that they might, won’t the killer strike again?

A Likeness in Stone is a pretty good psychological thriller, but I would have expected something even better. The blurb on the cover compares Julia Wallis Martin to some of the greatest, such as Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters. It is true that this novel reminded me a lot of Minette Walters’s the Ice House, it has the same chilling atmosphere, the same claustrophobic quality, it also shows the peculiar bond that ties people who have been sharing a terrible secret for a long time… As for Ruth Rendell, I think she writes a lot better than Julia Wallis Martin, her style is more literate, she really is something else. Rendell knows how to give the right amount of information at the right time (never too much, never to soon but enough to keep us hooked). She also has a gift for creating fascinating and unforgettable characters, and on both scores Wallis Martin is not up to par…

But maybe the problem is the fact that we are led to compare: we already have a Ruth Rendell and a Minette Walters. Maybe Julia Wallis Martin needs to find her own distinctive style. Then again, maybe she has. A Likeness in Stone is her first novel, and she has written two more since. Well, I liked A Likeness in Stone, but this is not what I would call an unforgettable thriller…

Rating: 3/5