When you hear her story, will you believe her?
Rose Marlowe is a hard-working nurse, a loving wife, and a merciless killer. Or so she says. Despite her confession, it is hard to believe that this beautiful, kind woman could have killed her vulnerable patient in cold blood.
Down-on-his luck author and ex-journalist, Theo Hazel, is convinced that there’s more to what happened than Rose is telling, and so decides to visit her behind bars to write her story. His first surprise comes when Rose reveals that the victim was not a stranger to her.
As time goes on, it seems that Rose is letting Theo see behind her perfect mask. With each new visit, he learns terrible new things about her heart-breaking past. With each new visit, he becomes more and more convinced that she can’t be a killer. But is he trying to free an innocent victim, or falling prey to a calculating murderer?
I love the opening line to the blurb: When you hear her story will you believe her? From the outset, I was on my guard, not knowing who to trust. Should I be rooting for a woman – a nurse, no less – who has purposely killed someone in her care? But then, as Rose tells her story to Theo, those dramatic headlines fade into the background as she tells her story in her own words. Suddenly, it becomes very easy to see her as a victim too. But of whom? And, throughout I still felt I was being led down one blind alley after another … until the ending pulled the rug out from underneath me. Wow!
So, what’s it all about?
Rose is in prison, convicted of murder, a charge she neither denies nor defends.
Theo is a writer who desperately needs a good hook to convince his publisher he has another book in him. Rose’s story, he hopes, will be enough to secure him a new deal.
Told from dual viewpoints and timelines, it pays to take note of the date as you start a new chapter.
To be honest, it did seem a bit far-fetched that Rose would tell him her story, especially when she had so little to say in court. It made me think whether she’d be telling him the truth or just a version thereof. Even Theo had to admit she was holding something back, but nonetheless her story was fascinating. How she went from having a real desire to do well in med school and become a paediatrician, to pulling out of her course to instead have a child with Daniel, with whom she had fallen in love. Well, OK, life happens and plans change … but things changed again – significantly, drastically, unimaginably – when she went into labour.
Rose’s story was a rollercoaster of highs and lows as twists and turns came from every angle; my impressions of her and other key characters spun on a sixpence many a time (apart from Ed, I never liked him at all!) leaving me unsure as to whom I could believe. My one reliable source was Theo; as he got to know Rose better he grew ever more certain that she hadn’t killed anyone. Although, he was clearly smitten with her too which begged the question whether Rose was playing him too.
Rose’s character was complex yet endearing. All along it felt as though she had a true vocation for the medical profession, and that even from a prison cell she was protective of others. She allowed Theo permission to speak to her mother and closest friends rather than have it appear that she was hiding anything. And to maintain a sense of balance he spoke to the victim’s family too. Eventually, pieces of the puzzle came together to allow the reader to better understand why Rose did what she did … or to at least think you understand her 😉
Whilst I felt the final twist was well delivered, my overall impression was that this was more a slow-burning thriller with many layers. Some layers you add, others you remove. A most intriguing read and, at times, heart-breakingly sad.
Thanks to the author, Canelo & Netgalley for my copy which I’ve reviewed of my own free will.