Monday 20 July 2015

TARNISHED by Julia Crouch

Peg always felt a little blurred, a little lacking in definition. Her mother died when she was six, her father simply disappeared, and she was brought up by her grandparents and her obese, bedridden aunt. But, despite all this, she never developed the habit of asking questions.

At least, not until she met Loz, her straight-talking, psychotherapeutically literate girlfriend, who urges her to confront her demons.

But as the skeletons come tumbling out of the family closet and the full horror of the past begins to reveal itself, Peg starts to wonder whether her youthful lack of curiosity might not have been a good thing. A very good thing indeed...
I love reading a good thriller. So when Hachette offered to send a few Domestic Noir books my way, I was really looking forward to getting stuck into them. Unfortunately, the first one I tried didn't work for me, but this one certainly did! 
Peg is a quiet library assistant who doesn't cause any friction. She's been seeing her girlfriend, Loz, for a year now, and they've been living together for a while. They have a good relationship, and although they are very different--Loz is outspoken, stubborn, ambitious and determined--they're crazy about each other. But everything gets threatened the day Peg decides she wants to know more about her childhood.
She's never bothered to contact her absent father, although she has tried to track him down. The women who raised her--her grandmother Doll and aunty Jean--don't like to talk about the past. But after a brief and very uncomfortable visit to Spain to visit her father, Peg starts to remember things. She's writing memories down in her journal (or as her Nan called it, a Commonplace Book) and is starting to fill in some of the gaps missing from the time she was a kid.
However, chasing these revelations leads her down a very dangerous road that will not only reveal a bunch of awful truths she tried so hard to forget, but might end up putting both her and Loz in the path of a killer. Not to mention that the missing memories might also provide the answers to several unsolved crimes...
Yikes! This book is one super heavy and involved read. It totally hooked me into Peg's world and kept me there every step of the way. I have to admit that she was a little frustrating sometimes because she was indecisive and totally in the clutches of her dysfunctional family, but the personal growth she goes through as each new layer of the mystery she's chasing is revealed really impacts the reader. I also really liked Loz. She was fun and witty, kept Peg on her toes, wasn't afraid to say what she thought, and was determined to chase the truth. Her obsession with true crime was also a nice addition, as she finds herself in the middle of one. O.o
Tarnished is a well written, addictive story with a very twisted core. It's one woman's search for the truth years after she's forgotten it. A way for her to fill in the blanks, to reconnect with her father, and understand what really happened to her mother. While slowly discovering that everything she thinks she knows about her family is a lie. And everyone she thought she knew lied and controlled her for their own sick purpose. It's a powerful book. A page turner.
I'm a sucker for a screwed-up mystery with a good dose of family secrets on the side, so I really (really) enjoyed this book!
This is the second Julia Crouch book I've read, and it certainly won't be the last.  
Tarnished, November 2013, ISBN 9780755378050, Headline

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