Clarissa is a normal 38 year old woman living in Bath. Rafe is not a normal man, he’s got an obsession with Clarissa and he won’t leave her alone. The back-story is deliciously unfolded very slowly throughout the book, in parallel with Clarissa’s current life. She’s been selected for Jury Duty, and has wound up on a nine week case which has startling parallels to the reign of terror that Rafe is unleashing on her life.
As the case unfolds in the courtroom for Clarissa, so the story unfolds for us as to just how insane Rafe is and how much he’s destroying Clarissa’s life. She’s terrified to leave the house alone as she knows Rafe will be there, but the parallels between her life and the courtroom lead Clarissa to decide that she needs to start collecting evidence about what’s happening so that a jury would believe her more than the poor woman in court.
In the jury room, Clarissa makes two new friends in a lovely woman callled Annie, and a widower called Robert, with whom she develops a very close bond. She finds a kind of peace in the courtroom, knowing that Rafe can’t get to her while she is in there, and finds safety in Robert, knowing that as long as she’s walking with him, Rafe won’t try anything.
But Rafe is getting crazier and more desperate to get under Clarissa’s skin, leading to a thrilling climax to the story, so intense that I think I stopped breathing as I read the last few pages as I was so wrapped up in the drama.
I was surprised to read that this was a debut novel, and even more surprised when I logged on to Goodreads after I finished the book and saw such polarising views. Most people seem to either love the book or totally hate it, which I find quite strange.
Personally, I loved it. I mainly picked it up because I was buying another book at WH Smith and there was a ‘buy one get one for £1’ offer which I couldn’t say no to, and this cover was so striking that I just had to buy it. And I’m so glad I did, because it was thrilling and intense and a perfect read for the new year.