I’m pleased to be reviewing the latest AJ Waines psychological thriller, Lost in the Lake, which is released today.
I first read Waines’ Girl on a Train, which I by far preferred to that other much-hyped book of a similar title, so I was delighted to be sent a proof copy of this new chiller thriller, the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series.
The book blurb goes something like this:
She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you.
Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.
But Rosie is hiding something…
Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?
When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…
There’s an intriguing prologue at the start of the book. ‘Did I make you jump?’ asks an (as yet) unknown narrator, adding: ‘You should never have turned your back.’
It’s a chilling opening that lays the groundwork for a story that deals with tragedy and loss, love and trust – all undercut with slow-burning menace.
Ideally a prologue ought not to give the game away and here AJ – Alison – Waines leaves us guessing. Even as the story progresses, it’s not clear who the unknown narrator was or who he or she was talking to. And that sinister voice echoes as we learn more about the main characters, Rosie and Sam.
It’s a popular literary device to write one novel in two voices (my co-author, Sue, and I use the technique too) and Waines does it here writing first one chapter from Sam’s point of view, and the next from Rosie’s.
It allows the author to describe and form character but, importantly, to let us see inside each woman’s head. But it also helps to tighten the tension, for instance, when Rosie says she knows what she has to do next – and it won’t go down well – we’re left wondering just how much of an innocent victim she is.
Our sympathy flips from one woman to the other until it dawns that Sam has taken on more than she intended. We want to yell: ‘Don’t do that…’ But because of past events, she does – and she finds herself backed into a corner.
Rosie’s memories start to return and with them, new characters appear and new evidence about the crash emerges – and the tension mounts.
Drawing on her fifteen years working as a psychotherapist, Waines offers a cleverly controlled unravelling of the relationship between the main characters, reflecting the will-she-won’t-she? technique used so successfully in her hugely successful Girl on a Train.
And, yes, we eventually learn the identity of the unknown narrator of the prologue – and who it was who should never have turned their back.
AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).
Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries.
AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.
Amazon link to Lost in the Lake:
UK: ebook 99p for short period only https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Lake-Samantha-Willerby-Book-ebook/dp/B073W8X17W
US: ebook $1.28 for short period only https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Lake-Samantha-Willerby-Book-ebook/dp/B073W8X17W