Sunday 10 April 2016

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

You see the people you work with every day.
But what can't you see?
Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years - they know how each other likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up all night. But their comfortable routine is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in .....
Now, there's something chilling in the air.
Who secretly hates everyone?
Who is tortured by their past?
Who is capable of murder? 

When She Was Bad is published by Black Swan (Transworld) on 21 April 2016, and is the author's seventh novel.

I started blogging at Random Things in March 2011 and one of the first books that I read and reviewed was The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen. That book totally took my breath away, it was like nothing I'd read before, I was a fan!  Since then, I have read and reviewed all of Tammy Cohen's books, the first three were published as Tamar Cohen, and her later novels are released as Tammy Cohen. I was a fan, and I remain a fan. Every single one of her books have thrilled me, and I wait very impatiently for her next one to be released.

You can read my reviews of the books by clicking on the following book titles; The Mistress's Revenge (2011), The War of the Wives (2012), Someone Else's Wedding (2013), The Broken (2014), Dying For Christmas (2014) and First One Missing (2015)

I was especially excited about When She Was Bad as I AM THE LEAD CHARACTER!!  Well, to be honest, I'm not a bit like the lead character, but she does have my name! I bid in a charity auction last year and was lucky enough to secure the prize; a character named after me, and here it is, at last!

Existing fans of Tammy Cohen will know to expect the unexpected when you read one of her novels, new fans will be thrilled by the clever way that she twists and turns her plots and leaves her reader's head in a spin whilst wondering at just how she manages to make it all seem so easy.

The opening chapter of When She Was Bad sets the pace for the whole book. Dr Anne Cater sits in her living room somewhere in America and watches the UK news. She is horrified yet not really surprised to see what has happened, she's almost been expecting it. We readers don't know what has happened .... yet. We do know that whatever it is, it is awful and violent and has shocked the whole country. Tammy Cohen expertly takes her readers back to the events that happened many years ago and that are firmly entwined with the horror that has happened across the ocean in England.

We then find ourselves in London, amongst a group of colleagues who are in shock. They've worked together comfortably in a recruitment agency for years, they are a good team, they get along well. Management have dropped a bombshell, the team are under performing and their manager has been sacked. The rumours about their new boss are worrying. The team are not happy.

The remainder of the story is told through the voices of each of the team members, interwoven every now and again by Anne Cater in America. This is an incredibly effective way of giving the reader a back story whilst nervously following what happens in the London office. Whilst we are aware of what has happened in the past, and what is gradually unfolding in the present, it is never clear how the two are linked. Tammy Cohen is a genius at creating tension and anticipation. Her readers are required to engage fully, to use their brain, to try to second guess what is happening, who is being true, how things are linked.

Time and again, as the story developed I was sure that I'd worked it out, but every single time I found I had been led up the garden path only to find that the door was firmly locked. Tammy Cohen expertly ties the reader in knots with her clever plotting and incredible talent for dialogue and dropping enormous red herrings amongst her words.

The sense of anticipation is forceful, you know that something terrible is going to happen, you just don't know when, or to who, and the tension is electrifying at times. The author's skill in recreating the politics of an office environment is immense, and so very sharply observed. It is incredibly realistic and anyone who has worked as part of a team will recognise most of the traits displayed by each of the characters in the story.

When She Was Bad is a brilliant psychological thriller. Dr Anne Cater's involvement allows Tammy Cohen to explore the effects of childhood abuse on the brain, and this is done extremely well, adding depth and insight into what is a dark and quite disturbing story at times. The individual characters are created with precision and skill and each one plays their own, very important part.

This is a powerful and chilling story. Tammy Cohen is a wonderfully talented author, her writing is skilled and her stories are gripping and compelling. I was left completely in awe of her talent.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Tammy Cohen has written several acclaimed novels about family fallout (as Tamar Cohen: The Mistress's Revenge, The War of the Wives and Someone Else's Wedding. 
Her first psychological thriller was The Broken, followed by Dying for Christmas and First One Missing.

Tammy lives in London, and is part of the 'Killer Women' collective of female crime writers.

Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen


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