Book Review – The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (@Janecorryauthor @PenguinUKbooks #TheDeadEx #BookReview )

One man’s disappearance throws four women’s lives into chaos–and not all will survive. . .

Vicki works as an aromatherapist, healing her clients out of her home studio with her special blends of essential oils. She’s just finishing a session when the police arrive on her doorstep–her ex-husband David has gone missing. Vicki insists she last saw him years ago when they divorced, but the police clearly don’t believe her. And her memory’s hardly reliable–what if she didhave something to do with it?

Meanwhile, Scarlet and her mother Zelda are down on their luck, and at eight years old, Scarlet’s not old enough to know that the “game” her mother forces her to play is really just a twisted name for dealing drugs. Soon, Zelda is caught, and Scarlet is forced into years of foster care–an experience that will shape the rest of her life . . .

David’s new wife, Tanya, is the one who reported him missing, but what really happened on the night of David’s disappearance? And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself? The answer lies in the connection among these four women–and the one person they can’t escape. 

Published June 28th 2018 by Penguin UK  

~ Review ~

I absolutely loved Jane Corry’s previous novel, Blood Sisters (reviewed here) and was so looking forward to reading her 2018 release, The Dead Ex. But then life got in the way, reading unfortunately got pushed aside as I seemed to roll from one drama of my own to another and I didn’t get around to it. Well, aren’t I kicking myself now after finally picking it up this week? Once again, I was completely sucked in and held captive by Jane’s twisty, compulsive writing as I devoured this addictive book in a couple of days.

The Dead Ex begins with alternating chapters told from the perspective of Vicki, a reclusive, seemingly timid aromatherapist who definitely has something to hide in the present, and Scarlett, ten years previously, an eight year old child who’s caught up in her chaotic mother’s criminal activities. Both narrators where fascinating and gripping, but what really intrigued me was trying to work out just what connected the two of them together. There is absolutely no way I could have guessed, and loved the turn the book took!

There’s a LOT of theme’s running through this book – child neglect and family loyalty, Female relationships and bonds, a need for a sense of belonging, ambition, power, loss of identity…it goes on. Vicki is a fascinating character with so many layers that even by the end I’m not sure I’d seen them all. Jane Corry writes each aspect of her so convincingly, I completely believed in her. I also absolutely loved the references to aromatherapy oils and uses, which I find fascinating and felt really complimented the book.

I flew through this book, despite reading it over a couple of busy days, grabbing any moment I could to read a bit more. With fascinating and complex characters and a plot that left me second guessing at every turn, this is compulsive reading at it’s best. An absolute page turner that manages to surprise and shock over and over again.

(I read proof copy courtesy of the publishers and Netgally)


Blog Tour Book Review: Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning. 
Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day. 
And only another life will do… 

Published June 29th 2017 by Penguin Viking (UK) 

Having only a brother, I always wished for a sister. I imagined close friendship, a constant companion …someone who will always be there for you no matter what. Yet I remember my best friend’s relationship with her sister was awful! They lived in the same house, were only a year apart in age and managed to not even speak to one another for years throughout their teens. That definitely put me off! If it hadn’t, then Blood Sisters by Jane Corry might well have done the trick.

Alison Baker is a withdrawn, introverted thirty something, working as an art teacher for adults. When she see’s a job advertised for an open prison art teacher, she takes on the challenge – determined to do some good. Meanwhile, Kitty lives in a care home – she can’t walk, talk or do anything for herself. Yet inside, she has a lot she still wants to say and she becomes increasingly frustrated at being unable to express herself.

Well, I absolutely tore through this book. Jane Corry is masterful at weaving a story where the words are less read, more gulped up by the reader, meaning that it felt I was covering tens of pages in less than a blink of the eye. From the very beginning, the atmosphere of ‘all not being quite as it seems’ is very clear, yet there’s character twists aplenty to keep the reader constantly surprised and intrigued.

The book is told in alternating chapters from Alison and Kitty, with flashbacks here and there detailing the lead up to terrible accident fifteen years ago, which has lead to the sister’s current situation. Alison is interesting, she’s a bit of enigma and seems, at first glance, pretty grounded. But then there’s hints to her fragility and a feeling that she isn’t quite as true as she may seem. At times, she’s almost a contradiction – is she the victim or the perpetrator? How reliable is she and what exactly are her reasons for doing what she does? For example, everything about her screamed that this wasn’t a woman who would chose to work in a prison. Yet there she is…

Kitty is a fascinating character and had me intrigued . Just how much did she understand about her past and her current situation? Was she genuinely frustrated and acting out as a result from her brain injury, or was there something more sinister at play? I couldn’t fathom her, and this kept me gripped, rushing through the pages and desperate to know what the truth really was. As an aside, I have to say that I thought Jane Corry depicted life in a care home and the good and bad practice by carers here very well (giving me the rage as Kitty screamed in her head about being called “she”, having people talk over her and for her constantly, and at the lack of dignity afforded her. As someone who works with people with severe communication difficulties this is a huge bugbear for me and I thought the author got that just right)

Blood Sisters tells a tangled web of lies, deceit and envy, and unraveling it was a compelling, thrilling ride. The horrifying thing is, Blood Sisters takes the complexities, resentments and secrets that could be brewing in any family and shows just how easily they can spiral out of control and one moment can change lives for ever. It explores the fine line between love and hate and the old phrase “blood is thicker than water” is particularly apt. Ultimately though, this is a story about facing up to your past, no matter how traumatic, to be able to move on. I really enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to see what Jane Corry comes up with next.

(I read an advanced proof courtesy of the publisher)