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Tuesday 24 September 2019

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry

Ach! This was written in the stifling, suffocating, claustrophobic present tense, which I hate. My heart sank when I started it. Actually, that's not quite true: the story is written from two POVs, Vicki's and Scarlet's, and it is the latter's whose narrative is in the past tense. However, seventy percent is present tense and it just doesn't work. 

In spite of that, this is a gripping thriller…thank goodness, as it helped to mollify my present-tense disappointment. 

Vicki Goudman is an aromatherapist whose ex-husband goes missing. His current wife sends the police to her home studio, but Vicki doesn't manage to convince them she has nothing to do with his disappearance. As time goes on, the odds are stacking up against her. Trouble is, she's finding it hard to convince herself she's innocent because of her memory lapses. 

Scarlet is only eight years old, daughter of single parent, Zelda, who thoughtlessly uses her as her drug mule. Inevitably, Zelda ends up in prison, and Scarlet is swallowed up into the foster-care system, long-term because Zelda keeps tripping up in prison. 

Vicki's mission is to get to the bottom of her ex's disappearance. Tanya, Scarlet, Zelda and she are all connected. The 'how' is well handled, and the 'who' keeps you guessing right to the very end. It's absorbing, twisty, the characters lives skilfully interwoven, but neatly wrapped up: present tense is forgiven, this time.

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