book review · NetGalley · suspense · there's a dog · thriller

Book Review – Tell Me My Name

Tell Me My Name

by Erin Ruddy

When a woman is snatched by an obsessed stranger claiming to be her soulmate, the consequences could be deadly in this suspenseful and darkly twisted psychological thriller … unless she can remember his name.

Ellie and Neil Patterson are eager to settle in to some quality time at their new cottage. It’s the first time in ten years they’ve been alone … or are they?

When a friendly encounter with their new neighbour leads to their violent kidnapping, they awake to a living nightmare. Insisting he is Ellie’s soulmate, the stranger gives her three chances to say his name. If she guesses wrong, it’s Neil who will suffer the consequences. This propels Ellie on a desperate trip down memory lane to dredge up the dubious men of her past.

Only after discovering the man’s true identity and sacrificing her own safety to save Neil does Ellie learn the truth — that everything she thought she knew about her husband and their decade-long love story was a lie.

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My Review

4/5 stars

This is a fast-paced suspenseful thriller, and a book that I devoured in no time. The story is set just outside Toronto where married couple, Ellie and Neil, have finally bought their dream house. While the children are away at camp, they spend some long-awaited time together. In recent years they have drifted apart a little, and this alone time gives them space to reconnect. 

All is going well until Hamish, their dog, decides to take a little adventure and explore the area. Oblivious to boundaries, Hamish ventures onto their neighbours’ land. Ellie, in hot pursuit, expects the worst, having been told by the sales agent that her neighbours are not the sociable sort. Yet, when a man introduces himself as Jake Palmer, the grieving widower and her next-door neighbour, she is surprised by his warmth and welcoming tone and – inadvertently -invites him round for dinner.

Jake and Neil seem to get on well that evening, and everything is going well. Ellie and Neil rekindle their romance and the future is looking rosy.

Until Jake arrives the next day when Ellie is alone in the house. His tone has changed, and the charming man of yesterday is not so pleasant. In fact, he is insistent and demanding, and intent on kidnapping Ellie by fair means or foul. 

Later, when she finds herself strapped down and groggy, he reveals his real motives. He merely wants her to remember him, asking her to say his name out loud. It seems simple enough, he clearly knows Ellie, but admits to having changed a lot since those days. And he doesn’t mean he’s grown as a person, or changed his ways, but rather that he’s changed his face. Ellie can’t place him, and when he adds more context to the “game”, she realises that by not naming him he will harm her husband. The stakes are high, and Ellie’s thinking time is limited, plying even more pressure on her. 

As she thinks back, trying to identify who he might be, the tension mounts. It’s a page turner as the reader waits to see if she can tell him his name. If she can’t, what will become of Neil? If she can, what will become of her?  

The concept is so exciting and addictive, I just had to keep reading. However, as the story developed, there were quite a few “convenient” recollections that determined the outcome. And, by 75% in, I had gleaned enough from this foreshadowing to see the twist coming. 

Nonetheless, a great read. Definitely an author whose books I’ll seek out again. 

Many thanks to @netgalley and @dundurnpress for this ARC; I’ve reviewed this honestly and of my own free will.

As always,