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Thursday, 7 September 2017

‘Beneath the Skin’ by Caroline England

Published by Avon,
5 October 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-00823752-3

Secrets and lies are always a sure-fire winner when it comes to psychological suspense and, my goodness, does Caroline England’s domestic noir novel Beneath the Skin have plenty of both.

The book revolves around four couples who live in the fertile heartland of the Cheshire countryside, four couples whose histories weave and collide, eight people all with secrets that could blow their lives apart.

To the outside world, Antonia is perfect - beautiful, happily married, flawless. So why does she cut her arms with a razor blade? Her friend Sophie is fun, smart. She likes a drink - who doesn’t? She is married to the best-looking man in town, Sami. Sami is one of the good guys - isn't he? Then there’s Antonia’s husband David. He would never do anything wrong - would he? And Mike and Olivia and Charlie and Helen. Their lives are normal, no secrets behind their closed doors. Surely?

Little by little, Caroline England’s delicious writing peels away the layers of the four couples’ lives to reveal their rotten cores in this slow-burning and ultimately rewarding novel. The characters shine and leap off the page and we become completely immersed in their deception and lies. Some will have their lives changed irrevocably, others less so. But all will be changed. And it is fascinating to see who emerges the least scathed.

Beneath The Skin doesn't follow the classical psychological suspense/thriller template (if there is such a thing), but surprises us in so many ways, with its interwoven threads, multiple viewpoints and believable characters. Caroline England has a great insight into human behaviour with all its frailties, making this a very intelligent book indeed.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Caroline England was born in Yorkshire. She studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary publications and anthologies. She was shortlisted for the Impress Prize 2015, in the Pulp Idol 2016 finals and long listed for the UK Novel Writing Competition 2017. Her debut novel, Beneath the Skin, will be published by Avon HarperCollins on 5 October 2017.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, also published by Killer Reads in April 2016.  To read the review of Killer reads click here

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