Wednesday 17 January 2024

One Of The Good Guys by Araminta Hall BLOG TOUR #OneOfTheGoodGuys @AramintaHall @panmacmillan @laurasherlock21 #BookReview


If most men say they’re one of the good guys, then why are so many women afraid to walk alone at night?

Cole is the perfect husband: a romantic, supportive of his wife, Mel’s career, keen to be a hands-on dad, not a big drinker. A good guy.

So when Mel leaves him, he's floored. She was lucky to be with a man like him.

Craving solitude, he accepts a job on the coast and quickly settles into his new life where he meets reclusive artist Lennie.

Lennie has made the same move for similar reasons. She is living in a crumbling cottage on the edge of a nearby cliff. It’s an undeniably scary location, but sometimes you have to face your fears to get past them.

As their relationship develops, two young women go missing while on a walk protesting gendered violence, right by where Cole and Lennie live. Finding themselves at the heart of a police investigation and media frenzy, it soon becomes clear that they don’t know each other very well at all.

This is what happens when women have had enough . . .

One Of The Good Guys by Araminta Hall was published on 4 January 2024 by Pan Macmillan. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

I read, reviewed and loved Araminta Hall's last two books: Imperfect Women (August 2020) and Hidden Depths (March 2022), I've been looking forward to One Of The Good Guys for a long time. Once again, this clever author takes a challenging and very relevant subject and creates a story that had me totally gripped from the first page. 

In part one of the novel we hear the voice of Cole, the lead male character of the tale. Cole has recently moved to the south coast where he's taken a new job as an environmental warden. We are treated to his stream of consciousness as he relates how Mel, his wife of seven years has left him and they are now divorcing. 
It is clear that Cole considers himself to be one of the good guys. He explains how Mel was able to create and run a successful PR agency - obviously, it was all down to him. The fact that he did the housework and the cooking and never ever complained. 

Cole appears confused as to why Mel has been so cruel to him, but there's also an anger bubbling underneath, there are many red flags in Cole's narrative. He is especially determined that he will not sign the papers that Mel so desperately wants him to, and his reasons for this become clearer as we learn more about him, and their relationship.

Cole stumbles upon a cottage, just on the edge of the cliffs and as he gazes through the window, he sees a woman there.  That women is Lennie, an artist who is spending time away from her busy life. Cole and Lennie form a friendship, that teeters upon a romantic relationship.  

Part Two brings in Mel's voice, and the reader gets another side of the story of this broken marriage. Whilst Mel relates very similar things as Cole does, her language and phrasing clearly show that the things that Cole admire about himself are the things that led Mel to end the marriage. 

Two young women are walking the south coast, to raise money and awareness for a charity that works to ensure the safety of women. Cole comes across them as they venture too close to the edge of a cliff, and then, they disappear.

Cole and Lennie become part of the police investigation and this is when the truths are slowly uncovered. 

Araminta Hall's structuring is so well done, and I especially enjoyed the use of social media clips as part of the narration, keeping it fresh and relevant.

This is a truly uncomfortable read. Cole's thoughts and actions sent shivers down my spine. Mel's frustration at him, and at the people who think he's wonderful just because he washes the dishes is totally believeable, yet I didn't care for her either.   None of the lead characters are particularly likeable, I certainly wouldn't want to spend time with any of them, however this doesn't take anything away from the story, in fact, I'd say that it adds depth. We tend to favour the character we like the best, regardless of what they do. In this book we have to unpick the facts. 

Billed by the publisher as a 'feminist thriller', there is no doubt that it is both a thriller and extremely feminist. There is also no doubt that many women who read this book will recognise much of Cole's behaviours.  'Influencers' such as Andrew Tate and his toxic messages, and the rise of the incel movement online exists and are dangerous and extremely worrying. 

Readers could think that this story is a little over the top, and that Lennie and Mel are extreme in their views and what they decide to do,  however, the author gives a great outline of their back stories, and we have two intelligent women who find common ground and decide to do something about it. There's a discussion to be had about what they do, and there's lots to be said about the outcomes for all of the characters too.

The perfect choice for discussion at book club, I really enjoyed One Of The Good Guys; it's extremely well written and the character creation is amazing. It's dark, and uncomfortable but so relevant to society today. I think this one will split readers. It's a brave and daring book, and very stylish. Recommended by me. 

Araminta Hall is a journalist and teacher. 

She is the author of five previous novels, including her first novel, Everything & Nothing, which was published in 2011 and became a Richard & Judy read that year. 
She is the great niece of Dodie Smith and the great granddaughter of Lawrence Beesley, who survived the Titanic and wrote a bestselling account of the tragedy in the book, The Loss of the SS Titanic. 

She teaches creative writing at New Writing South in Brighton, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Twitter / X @AramintaHall

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