“In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.
She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.
And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…”
The Sir Walter Scott quote “Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive” seems the perfect sentence to summarise both the theme and the plot of this spectacularly written psychological thriller. In 1999 young lovers Laura and Kit were at Lizard’s Point in Cornwall to watch the total eclipse of the sun. It is then that Laura witnesses someone being raped. This attack leads to Laura and Kit being crucial witnesses at the trial, where a conviction hangs almost solely on Laura’s testimony. Knowing this Laura makes a split, rash decision. One that will haunt her and Kit for the next 15 years.
The story flips between 1999/2000 and 15 years later when travelling to the Faroe Islands to watch another eclipse, leaving heavily pregnant Laura home alone. The alternating chapters are told from both Laura and Kit’s point of views which builds up intrigue and suspense as the story is slowly drip fed to the reader. The book is further split into four sections, each named after a section of a solar eclipse. This is an effective structure to give a glimpse of each stage of the rape case and the fallout that results from it.
There are a lot of twists and turns in this story, some even what I like to call a double twist, when something is revealed only for that to be turned on its head later on in the story. The story is not solely based on the court case, the verdict is given fairly early on, but focuses on the aftermath and the long-term psychological effects for all parties involved. We know that Laura and Kit are terrified of both the victim Beth, and the accused Jamie, but we do not know why they are so scared and why they have had to go into hiding.
The plot is so carefully planned out and intricately woven that it flows seamlessly. Sometimes I find a novel told from two characters points of view and past and present can appear disjointed, fortunately this wasn’t the case with He Said/She Said and the author goes between the two very skilfully. I wouldn’t consider this to be a fast paced plot, as the story is unravelled slowly building on the tension and suspense, but it’s one that will pull you in and keep you in its clutches to the very last shocking page. As the plot builds in momentum the author reveals more shocking events it’s then you realise what a well constructed and dark tale He Said/She Said really is.
There is such a great mix of characters and the author does a fantastic job in creating Jamie, the man accused of rape. He has every single attribute I despise most in a person. The man infuriated me the whole way through the book. Beth was by far my favourite character, unstable and unreliable, she might be a bit full on, but I felt for her in every way possible. Nothing is what is seems in this novel, especially with the characters. Erin Kelly pulls you in one direction and plays with your empathy, then whips you right back round again making you question everything you believe.
That ending, wow. Those last few sentences put another chilling dimension on the story and completes the final twist in the tale. Erin Kelly is a highly talented author and I can see this book being huge in 2017. Overall rating five fabulous stars. Thanks to Erin Kelly, Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.