The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers #BookReview #BlogTour

When you look at those you love, what do you see?

When Issy, young mother and beloved daughter, seemingly kills herself her family is devastated.

Believing she would never leave son Noah willingly, Jon and Mel determine to discover what really happened to Issy. As they and the rest of the family struggle to come to terms with tragedy, Jon and Mel start to realise Issy’s secrets come from a very dark place…

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Dark Place by Stephanie Rogers today. Many thanks to the author, Manatee Books and Tracy Fenton for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novel.

The opening chapter of The Dark Place briefly introduces the reader to Issy as she returns home following her first year at university. We learn very little about her here, other than she is the mother of a young son, Noah who is cared for by her parents and she seems to struggle to know how to relate to him. The moment when her life comes to a sudden and violent end is a shocking …

#BookReview - Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister




**The new edge-of-your-seat psychological suspense new novel from Gillian McAllister**

Gone Girl meets Sliding Doors in this edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly. But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home.

Is she being followed? She is sure it's him; the man from the bar who wouldn't leave her alone.

Hearing the steps speed up, Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps to lie motionless on the floor. Now Joanna has to make a decision: Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

I've been looking forward to reading Anything You Do Say since taking part in the cover reveal a few months ago and my instincts were correct, this is a brilliant and original thriller. The comparisons to Sliding Doors are fair but while the film was a sweet, romantic comedy, Anything You Do Say is much darker. Joanna is on a night out with her friend and agrees to post for a selfie with a man in a bar - but then he won't leave her alone. After his harassment crosses the line into a sexual assault, the two women decide to call it a night and Joanna heads for home. Many readers of the book will have experienced unwanted attention on a night out, and many will recognise that chilling moment when you hear footsteps behind you and they seem to be drawing ever nearer. Do you speed up? Cross the road? Look behind you? What if you spot the shoes of the person behind you and they're the same ones worn by the man in the bar? This is the situation Joanna finds herself in and in a panic she turns and pushes him away. He falls down the steps but then doesn't get back up. What should Joanna do next - check he's okay or run? It's at this point the book splits into two separate stories, one tells what happens if she stays, the other if she leaves him to his fate. The stories are told in alternating chapters entitled Reveal and Conceal. 
In the Reveal chapters she has done the 'right' thing and dialled 999, yet still she rapidly becomes a passenger in her own life. She has to face the consequences of her actions while also contending with the judgement of others, including her friends and her husband, Reuben. Just how far does their support go? The fear and despair in the Reveal chapters is almost palpable, as Gillian McAllister cleverly explores what happens as Joanna feels she has lost control over her fate. The Conceal chapters also feature similar emotions but there is also a sense of panic about them as Joanna tries and fails to go back to normality but constantly fears the police knocking on her door. As she takes ever more desperate steps to hide the truth of that night, everything she loves slips away from her. These are perhaps the darkest moments; the terror of exposure and the guilt she can't escape from are vividly realised and utterly heartrending.
Joanna isn't always an easy character to like, her actions are frustrating at times and I couldn't help but feel that she needed to be more proactive and face her problems face on. Nevertheless I still felt an enormous sympathy for her plight and throughout the book questioned what I would do under similar circumstances (what a great book group choice this would be!) The supporting characters are likewise flawed, in particular Reuben who I found to be a fascinating albeit conflicting character. His love for Joanna seems obvious, he sees the best in her and defends her when her family compare her unfavourably to her brother. However, at times he's judgemental, almost controlling, is it his fault or hers when she feels she can't tell him everything that happened that night?
I wondered if splitting the story like this would result in a somewhat disappointing novel with not enough time to fully explore both scenarios. This is far from the case and instead I felt I had read two immensely satisfying stories. As they are eventually and cleverly brought together, the last few scenes are tense and heartbreaking at times. Full of suspense, moral dilemmas and complex situations. Anything You Do Say evokes a whole array of emotions. This is an intelligent, beautifully descriptive book, both stories wholly believable thanks to Gillian McAllister's meticulous research. I felt thoroughly spoiled having two compelling stories in one and was gripped from the first page until the last.
Many thanks to the publishers for my advance copy received through Netgalley in return for my honest review.

Anything You Do Say is available now as an ebook, the paperback will be published by Michael Joseph, a Penguin UK imprint on 25th January 2018.

About the Author

Gillian McAllister has been writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated with an English degree and lives in Birmingham where she now works as a lawyer. Her debut novel Everything But The Truth was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

Website - https://gillianmcallister.wordpress.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/gillianmauthor?lang=en
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/gillianmcallisterauthor/

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