Thursday 12 May 2022

After Dark by Jayne Cowie #AfterDark @CowieJayne @centurybooksuk @lauraodbooks @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview



They dominate workplaces, public spaces and government.

They are no longer afraid to cross a dark car park, catch the last train, or walk home alone.

With the Curfew law in place, all men are electronically tagged and must stay at home after 7pm.

It changed things for the better. Until now.

A woman is murdered late at night and evidence suggests she knew her attacker.

It couldn't have been a man because a Curfew tag is a solid alibi... Isn't it?

After Dark by Jayne Cowie is published in paperback by Century on 12 May 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

In the year 2023 the Prevention of Femicide Act was passed by the UK Parliament. This piece of legislation came about after women began to make a stand, they began to protest widely about the increasing violence toward women, and the rising murder rate. There was no doubt that women were no longer safe in the UK. Men were hurting and killing women. The Act makes it law that all males, from the age of ten, must be electronically tagged and a curfew was imposed. No male can leave their home between the hours of 7pm and 7am.

After Dark begins in the 'present day' - it is sixteen years after the bill was passed and women are now the dominant force. Violence toward women has reduced and the man on woman murder rate is zero.

Pamela is a police officer. She's been around for thirty years, and is due to retire soon. She remembers the time before curfew very well, however most of her colleagues have only policed the new world. The body of a woman has been found in a local park. Pamela's experience tells her that this woman was killed by a male. Her colleagues mock her and her superiors try to silence her. 

The story goes back and forth, we hear the stories of three other women; Sarah, her daughter Cass and Cass's teacher Helen. These three women all feel very differently about men, and about curfew.

Sarah is now a single mother, her husband is in prison for breaking curfew. Sarah is most certainly a man hater, she's recently trained to be a tagger; fitting the electronic devices to men's legs and regularly checking them. Cass is bitter and angry, she hates her mother and blames her entirely for her father's imprisonment. Helen is desperate for a baby and is currently going the process of obtaining a Cohab certificate. She and her boyfriend must attend counselling sessions and if they pass, they will be allowed to live together, and start a family. Marriage is a thing of the past, and every woman only wants a daughter. To give birth to a boy only puts added pressure on the mother, ensuring that they are kept inside during curfew and curtailing anything that they wish to do too. 

Whilst there are some unanswered questions in the story, for example, we have to assume that women do all of the jobs that men would previously do during night hours; hospital doctors and nurses, paramedics, police officers, utilities workers etc, this really does not detract from what is a fascinating and cleverly written novel. 

The characters are incredibly flawed, it is not always easy to empathise with them, especially Sarah, who is often so single minded that she doesn't take any other feelings into account. Cass is a typical moody, hormonal teenager, full of angst and mood swings. Helen is often gullible, but good at heart, probably the most realistic character in the story. 

This is a novel that makes the reader think so hard, not only is is well written and totally enthralling, it also raises questions that are very difficult to answer. The author has added a note at the back that details her reasons for writing the story, this is a very personal note and it is clear that the novel is written from the heart.

After Dark is a powerful and very relevant novel, reflecting problems faced by women of the world today, and offering up a solution that appears to be a great answer .... however, things don't always go according to plan.  A page turner that gripped me from page one, I flew through this one. 

An avid reader and life-long writer, Jayne Cowie also enjoys digging in her garden and
makes an excellent devil's food cake. 

She lives near London with her family. 

You can find her on Instagram and Twitter  as @CowieJayne

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