Book Title: He Said/She Said
Author: Erin Kelly
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense Fiction
Date Read: 05/27/17
Pub Date (US): 06/06/17
In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.
As you can tell by my picture above, this book has been sitting on my shelf for waaaay too long. This was the last piece of book mail that I received before we made the big move to Virginia in February, and I’m ashamed that it has taken me so long to dust it off my shelf and read it. I had seen numerous raving reviews featuring He Said/She Said, especially early on from my UK friends as they tend to get all the best books across the pond first, but I still wasn’t entirely sure what to expect based on the very brief blurb and cryptic reviews I scoured on Goodreads. I’m entirely grateful for two things- that the reviews I came across were so vague and that I chose to hold off on reading it until precisely the right moment. While I read a great variety of genres, I tend to enjoy certain ones in an ever-rotating circle based on my mood and other particulars; since I knew that this was a slow burn I decided to hold off until I was in the mood for that particular pacing. Or as I like to describe it, I pitched an adult temper tantrum because I do what I want. I highly recommend going into this one as blind as possible; I know that I suggest this regularly as it’s how I prefer to experience my novels, but trust me, this is one that the less you know the better.
As I’m going back through the story in my mind, I believe that the factor that makes this book soar to a 5 star place is the sheer discomfort it caused me to feel. There are too many psychological thrillers being published that are nice, exciting stories that grab our attention but, in the grand scheme of our reading experience, aren’t truly memorable. Not so with He Said/She Said. This book had me squirming from beginning to end with characters that will stay with me for ages. Numerous readers warned me prior to cracking the spine to “Just hang in there. We know it’s slow but I promise, the ending is worth it!” Needless to say, I went in with very low expectations; as an avid reader of psychological thrillers, I’ve begun to grow weary of the novel that is dependent upon a whopping twist at the finale to gain it’s popularity. Maybe it was due to these warnings but once I picked this book up I simply couldn’t put it down! Yes, it is 100% a slow burn. HS/SS is a classic example of your gradually building suspense that blows you away when you reach that final climax, although there are still a few surprises past that as well.
These characters were a complex bunch; while I found each one was somewhat unlikeable in their own way, my views on them were ever-changing, so they weren’t the type of unlikeable that can force me to toss a book aside to the DNF pile. Authors have to walk a fine line while writing these sort of narrators and I feel Erin Kelly did a fabulous job here. Personally the duel narrative really worked for me here; the plot does jump between past and present which can get confusing at times, but that mild confusion really enhanced my journey alongside Laura, Kit, and Beth. The minor characters were actually the ones who shined brightest for me; the backstory with Kit’s twin Mac and Laura’s former room mate Ling was so complex and realistic that it added an entirely necessary layer to the novel. As we move forward alongside our narrator’s Kit and Laura, we realize that this husband and wife are struggling with the same levels of psychological trauma manifested in anxiety and insomnia, but are portrayed in different forms. This was a fine example of how men and women tend to deal with stress and trauma to the psyche in differing ways and I’m grateful that the author chose to develop the story not just within the plot, but on an emotional level as well.
I’m going to leave the rest up to you to decide if you want to read this book; I feel like those readers who enjoy literary thrillers in the domestic fiction realm will really take to He Said/She Said. While I know this book won’t be enjoyable for every reader, I feel it did a fantastic job of offering so much for a variety of readers, not just your loyal MTS (Mystery, Thriller, Suspense) crowd. This story felt like it broke several genre barriers, as many are seeming to do currently, and I think this offers a greater potential for a more diverse audience. Don’t let this review fool you; while it may be a character driven story in lieu of a fast paced plot, the eerie suspense left me breathless and caused me to check that our doors were locked multiple times before bed. This is one book you won’t want to miss for Summer 2017 folks; highly recommended and looking forward to hearing other’s reactions upon turning that final page.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here.
** TRIGGER WARNING-as alluded to in the blurb, there is a brief rape scene that is somewhat graphic in description. This was necessary to the plot and all further mention of the attack is dealt with in vague, legal terms.