A sunny, Sunday afternoon, a family barbecue, and Naomi Baxter and her boyfriend Alex celebrate good news. Driving home, Naomi's recklessness causes a fatal accident, leaving nine-year-old Lily Vasey dead, Naomi fighting for her life, Alex bruised and bloody and the lives of three families torn apart.
Traumatised, Naomi has no clear memory of the crash and her mother Carmel is forced to break the shocking truth of the child's death to her. Naomi may well be prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving. If convicted she will face a jail term of up to 14 years, especially if her sister's claim that Naomi was drink-driving is proven.In the months before the trial, Carmel strives to help a haunted and remorseful Naomi cope with the consequences of her actions.
Blink of an Eye is a novel about the nightmare that could be just around the next bend for any one of us.
I've been a fan of Cath Staincliffe's writing for some time now, and especially enjoy her stand-alone novels. She also the author of three crime series; Sal Kilkenny, Janine Lewis and Scott & Bailey. The Scott & Bailey series have been made into a hugely popular TV series.
Blink Of An Eye is Staincliffe's fifth stand-alone and was published in paperback by Constable & Robinson's C & R Crime imprint on 18 July 2013.
Blink Of An Eye has firmly confirmed Cath Staincliffe's place as one of my favourite authors, she's delivered a novel that deals with serious and sensitive issues, and leaves the reader wondering just what they would do in the same situation.
The lives of the central family are shattered one Sunday afternoon. Life had seemed pretty perfect as they all gather for a barbecue. Carmel and Phil, the parents, were finally about to set off on their travels. Their daughters were settled; Suzanne is happily married with a gorgeous new baby and younger sister Naomi is celebrating her boyfriend Alex's new job. That was BEFORE. Then comes the AFTER. Naomi and Alex have an accident on their way home from the barbecue. Naomi is seriously injured and Alex pulls her clear from the burning car. They've hit and knocked down a nine-year-old girl who died at the scene.
Blink Of An Eye is a fairly short novel, but Cath Staincliffe gets under the skin and into the minds of the lead characters so well. Carmel is horrified to find that Naomi had driven home after drinking all afternoon, she cannot believe it. Naomi was not the easiest of children, she had her moments during her teenage years, but Carmel would have bet her life that she would never have driven whilst drunk. Naomi has no recollection of the accident at all. When she learns that she is responsible for the death of a small child, and that she faces a prison sentence, her life crumbles. Her guilt eats away at her, she distances herself from her family and breaks up with Alex. Naomi's sister Suzanne does not hold back with her opinion, she is disgusted and rejects Naomi outright.
Carmel is determined that she will find out all of the answers and begins her quest to find out the truth. The truth turns out to be the most shocking part of this story, an explosive discovery that changes things but doesn't make them better.
Told in alternate chapters by Naomi and Carmel, this story is so skilfully written, allowing the reader to get a real insight into the characters behind the story. The tender, yet hard-hitting and descriptive writing shows just what the impact of such a traumatic event can have on an entire family. Cath Staincliffe has a real gift for getting into the mind of the character, portraying Naomi's gradual breakdown with sympathy and realism.
A novel of betrayal, guilt and family relationships that is an utterly compelling read.
My thanks to Saskia Angenent from Constable & Robinson who provided my copy for review.
Cath Staincliffe is the author of the acclaimed Sal Kilkenny mysteries as well as being a scriptwriter for ITV's hit police series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. Cath was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library award in 2006. She lives in Manchester with her partner and their three children.
For more information about the author and her other novels visit www.cathstaincliffe.co.uk. Follow her on Twitter @cathstaincliffe