Monday 2 March 2020

Dead Ringer by Nicola Martin @nmartinwriter #RandomThingsTours BLOG TOUR @SarabandBooks @RKbookpublicist #DeadRinger

The idea is simple, vain, exciting. Tap the app, upload a picture of yourself, find your lookalike. Set up a meeting to see whether you have anything else in common.
When Ella and Jem meet, the physical resemblance is uncanny, but their lives couldn't be more different. One is from a tiny island in a deprived Northern community pretty much the back of beyond where she has no job, no boyfriend, limited prospects. The other is a Chelsea party girl, an aspiring actress living in a multimillion-pound mansion. By all appearances, she's living a charmed life, but she's got some serious stuff to run away from.
Both of them have.
Can either hide in her double's skin? And at what cost? Will it solve any of the problems, or merely compound them? This is an all-too-believable, twisty, compelling story that will leave you reeling.

Dead Ringer by Nicola Martin was published in paperback on 27 February 2020 by Saraband. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this #RandomThingsTours blog tour, with Ruth Killick Book Publicity. 

There is so much that I could write about this intriguing and compelling debut psychological thriller from Nicola Martin. It's not a short book at over 450 pages in my print proof copy, but it's packed with a multitude of issues.

Let's think about the concept. MeetYourDouble is the latest App on the market. Just upload your photo and the App will find your doppleganger.  So, we've all seen people posting their Celebrity Doppleganger on Social Media. I'm positive that most of us will have been told at some time that we look just like XXXX.  MeetYourDouble takes this to the next level. Not only do you see a photo of someone who looks like you, you can meet them, in real life.

Whoaaa! Maybe lots of people would do that. In fact, I'm positive that many many people would do that. I wouldn't, and especially not after reading Dead Ringer. 
No Way, Jose. 

Ella and Jem are matched. They look alike but their worlds couldn't be further apart. Ella lives on Walney Island, a windswept island off the coast of Cumbria. It's a beautiful place, but it's dead. For a young woman, there's nothing. Ella lives in a caravan, with little money and no hope.
Jem, on the other hand, lives the life of an almost-celebrity. Glamour and glitz could be her middle names. She's wealthy and beautiful, with friends and a boyfriend. There are lots of parties, and there's a lot of bad behaviour too.

Of course, Ella and Jem meet and that first meeting, wonderfully described by this clever author is almost embarrassing to read. Ella; the poor girl from up North meets Jem, the confident, outgoing rich girl from the South. Ella is swept along by Jem who treats her as little more than a plaything.

They may look alike, but they have nothing in common. Or do they?

It's not my job to tell the story. The author does this very well. Be prepared for a sometimes intense, but always compelling look at the lives of GenZers, and the contrast between them.  You'll also notice that there are actually a lot of similarities too. As the story progresses and we learn more about Ella and Jem, we come to realise that they do actually have quite a lot in common, other than how they look.

The author deals with issues that include mental health and the impact of social media and over exposure, along with the seedier side of celebrity here, and she does it very well. It may be a stretch of the imagination to think that these two women could actually swap places, and get away with it. It's an intriguing suggestion and it's actually far more complicated than they could ever realise. 

Twist and turns aplenty will keep fans of psychological thrillers happy, whilst the underlying darker themes add a depth that bring this novel up a notch. Fine writing and a great debut from an author to watch. 

Nicola Martin lives and works in Bristol, UK. 

She studied literature at the University of East Anglia and the University of California, Berkeley. 

Dead Ringer is her debut novel.

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