The Suspects by Katharine Johnson

You know, there are both pleasures and problems in being a blogger. A pleasure is being offered and sent fabulous books on a regular basis. A problem is getting round to reading them all. Lovely Katharine Johnson sent me a copy of The Suspects in return for an honest review almost 18 months ago and it is only now that I have managed to fit in reading it. My enormous thanks to Katy for a copy of her book.

The Suspects is available for purchase here.

The Suspects

Shallow Grave meets The Secret History in this quirky psychological thriller

When you’re bound together by secrets and lies who do you trust?

Bristol, 1988.

Five young graduates on the threshold of their careers buy a house together in order to get a foot on the property ladder before prices spiral out of their reach. But it soon becomes the house share from hell.

After their New Year’s Eve party, they discover a body – and it’s clear they’ll be the first suspects. As each of them has a good reason from their past not to trust the police, they come up with a solution – one which forces them into a life of secrets and lies.

But can they trust each other?

My Review of The Suspects

A house share leads to more than might be expected…

What a cracking book! I can’t decide if I wish I’d read The Suspects sooner or I’m pleased to have been able to read it for the first time now. Either way, it’s a super, fast paced thriller that kept me guessing right to the last page and I thought it was excellent. I have to comment on the cover too. The balance of light and shade reflects the balance of good and evil, light and shade, in the characters’ lives. There’s a sense of always looking over your shoulder, of wondering when or if you might be found out that is such an important aspect of the story. I loved the creation of time in The Suspects too. The era is clear and authentic with board games, music and television adding to the picture without ever dominating.

The plot is tautly constructed so that Katharine Johnson kept me guessing about who had done precisely what throughout. Whilst all the characters are implicated in actions that are at best foolish and at times illegal, I believed in them completely. I can see how easy it would be to be sucked into their lives and I found it fascinating. Reading The Suspects made me wonder how I might have responded as the events unfolded. The pace is breathless and although it’s a short book it did take me a while to read because I had to give myself a break to allow my pulse to slow at times. I found it incredibly exciting.

Told from Emily’s first person point of view The Suspects has a claustrophobic, dangerous, intimacy that creates a brilliant atmosphere of menace. It’s the interplay between the characters, their rationale for their behaviour and the way Katherine Johnson explores how our actions have repercussions across the decades that I found so compelling. Back stories and truths are gradually uncovered through such skilled writing that the reader has a thorough understanding of every one of the housemates. Each of these young people has a flawed and very realistic character. Selfish, ambitious, foolish, insecure, duplicitous – they are all at fault and yet I didn’t blame any one of them. I felt as much part of their story, because of the excellent writing, as they are themselves. The Suspects is as much about friendship and identity as it is about crime and I loved that element.

It’s so hard to review The Suspects without revealing something that might spoil the read for others. Let’s just say I thought it was a superb story that held me entranced throughout and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Katharine Johnson

Katharine Johnson is the author of gripping psychological and historical suspense stories set in the UK and Italy. It’s always the whydunit that intrigues her most. Katharine’s characters are flawed but not evil – they’re ordinary people who through a bad decision find themselves in nightmarish situations.

Born in Bristol, she currently lives in Berkshire. As a journalist she’s written for a variety of magazines, mostly about home and lifestyle. She has a passion for crime novels. old buildings and all things Italian (except tiramisu.)

When not writing you’ll often find her drinking coffee, exploring cities, restoring her house in Italy or out walking with her partner in crime-writing, Monty the spaniel, while thinking up plots.

For further information, follow Katy on Twitter @kjohnsonwrites, visit her blog or find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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