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Thursday 1 February 2024

Twenty-Seven Minutes by Ashley Tate #TwentySevenMinutes @tate_ab @headlinepg @RosieMargesson #BookReview



For the last ten years, the small town of West Wilmer has been struggling to answer one question: on the night of the crash that killed his sister, why did it take Grant Dean twenty-seven minutes to call for help? If he'd called sooner, Phoebe might still be alive.


As the anniversary of Phoebe's death approaches, Grant is consumed by his memories and the secret that's been suffocating him for years. But he and Phoebe weren't the only ones in the car that night. Becca was there too - she's the only other person who knows what really happened. Or is she?


Everyone remembers Phoebe, but local girl June also lost someone that night. Her brother Wyatt has been missing for ten years and, now that her mother is dead, June has no one left - no family, no friends. Until someone appears at her door. Someone who knows what really happened that night. And they are ready to tell the truth.

Twenty-Seven Minutes by Ashley Tate is published today; 1 February 2024 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

West Wilmer is a small town packed with people who know everything about each other. Or do they? The community does know that the old bridge on the edge of town has just claimed another life. An elderly lady, who really shouldn't have been driving, has died. The bridge is better known as the place where young Phoebe Dean died ten years ago. She was a passenger in a truck, driven by her brother Grant. Becca was also a passenger that night. 

June also lives in West Wilmer, her mother recently died and June was the only person at the funeral. June's brother Wyatt disappeared on that night when Phoebe died. Their father left soon afterwards and June and her mother never heard from Wyatt again. 

As Phoebe's mother prepares to hold a memorial to mark ten years since Phoebe's death, her brother Grant becomes more and more paranoid about the secrets that have been kept for all of those years. Everyone in town wonders why it took Grant twenty-seven minutes to call the emergency services after the crash. Everyone thinks that if Grant had acted sooner then Phoebe would still be alive. 

Becca is determined to attend the memorial. She's kept quiet about that dreadful night for a decade, she has loved Grant from afar. Becca has been totally destroyed by what happened that night, she feels like she is in a constant glare from residents, yet is unable to speak her truth. 

As the memorial gets nearer, Grant, Becca and June each struggle with their current life. Wishing that they could go back, wishing that things were different. In June's case, desperate for the truth, whilst Grant and Becca want nothing more than to keep everything covered up. 

Told alternatively by the three main characters, with flash backs to the days leading up to the accident on the bridge, this is a tense and quite challenging read. It feels very claustrophobic at times, with the characters always feeling as though they are being watched, and judged. 

Each of the lead characters are finely drawn, including Phoebe in the flash back episodes. It's difficult to like or empathise with any of them except for June, but this just adds to the story. The reader will certainly take sides along the way, but as more detail is exposed, that initial opinion may change.

The pace quickens as the novel gets towards the end, with more and more reveals until the shocking finale that left me quite stunned. 

This is a dark, literary domestic thriller, very character led but with a compelling and dynamic plot line too. The secrets are buried deep, but when they become exposed, they are explosive and unexpected. 

A fabulous debut from this very talented author. I will look forward to reading more from Tate. Highly recommended. 

ASHLEY TATE worked for over a decade as a writer and an editor for various
publications as well as Canada’s first online magazine. 

Twenty-Seven Minutes is her debut. 

She lives with her husband, their two children, and their dog in Toronto.

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