Wednesday 27 May 2020

He Started It by Samantha Downing BLOG TOUR @smariedowning @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #HeStartedIt @sriya__v

No-one knows you better than your family.
They know the little things that make you smile. Your proudest achievements. Your darkest secrets.
Sure, you haven't always been best friends.
But if it seemed as though someone was after you, that you might be in danger, then you'd be on each other's side.
So gripping you won't stop reading.
So twisty that you won't know who to trust.
And so dark that you'll realise something truly chilling:
No-one is more dangerous than the ones who know you best.

He Started It by Samantha Downing was published by Michael Joseph / Penguin on 30 April 2020. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to be part of this Blog Tour.

I guess, like most people, it's a long time since I took a long car journey. Lockdown during the COVID19 crisis has certainly changed our world, and jumping into the car to discover new places has always been something that I've taken for granted.

When I read the blurb of He Started It, I thought it would be perfect to have a little escapism; to imagine myself driving hundreds of miles, discovering new towns and cities, along with the characters in this story.

Well, I certainly did that, but this road trip was unlike anything that I've done myself, and to be honest, it's not the greatest advertisement for either a long car journey, or for travelling with your family!

Siblings Eddie, Beth and Portia last made this very trip when they were just children. They accompanied their Grandpa as he drove them through US states, showing them unusual landmarks and taking them to strange museums. It's clear that trip had a lasting effect on the family, it changed them beyond recognition, yet they've rarely spoken about it since. 

Now, they are taking the exact same trip all over again. All these years later, they have to travel together and re-trace that journey. Their Grandpa has recently died and the terms of his will say that until they've done exactly that, they won't get their hands on their inheritance. It's a lot of money, and each one of them could really do with that money. So, off they set, accompanied this time by Beth's husband and Eddie's new wife ... this is going to be another trip to remember.

What I really loved about this story was the author's skill in creating a sense of place. I've never been to the US, but have seen those isolated gas stations and down-at-heel motels on many TV shows and films; her descriptions of these locations were wonderfully drawn. The reader can almost be there themselves; sitting on the cracked faux leather seats at roadside diners, with plates of burgers and fries in front of them.

This is a complex plot that takes the reader on an incredibly twisted journey. Nothing is quite as it seems and not only do we learn about the family as they are today, we are given snapshots into their feelings during their previous trip. 
None of the characters are particularly likeable, but I really don't think they are supposed to be, and this only adds to the tension and the increasing suspense for the reader. As the miles pass, we begin to ask more questions, and the answers are slowly drip fed to us; cleverly and slowly, but always giving a punch to the gut.

He Started It is a dark, dark story and I enjoyed it immensely. It was never what I thought it would be, and I like that. I love a complete surprise and that's what I got here. There's something really addictive about this author's writing; despite the unease of the reader, and the unpredictability of her characters, I found myself turning the pages really quickly as their journey got closer to the final destination.

The ending is a cracker. It totally threw me, I had no inkling whatsoever of how this would end and it's one of those final chapters that you really need to read twice, just to make sure you've really understand just how clever this author has been. I've been thinking about how well put together this was for days since I finished it; trying to spot flaws in the plot, but unable to find any!

A riveting read. Clever, devilishly complex characters and a final twist that I really admired.

Samantha Downing was born in the Bay Area, and currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next psychological thriller. 

Her debut novel, My Lovely Wife, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a Sunday Times bestseller, and has been published in twenty-three languages.

Instagram @smariedowning
Author Page on Facebook

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