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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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The Second Life of Amy Archer is one those high-concept thrillers that seem to be all over the place at the moment. Beth Archer's daughter Amy went missing ten years ago from a London park, leaving Beth unable to move on or find any sort of peace. Shortly after the anniversary of Amy's disappearance, Beth is contacted by Libby, a much younger woman from Manchester, who claims that she knows where Amy is - and that she's still alive. The complication is that Amy is now called Esme, and in the ten years since Beth last saw her, she hasn't aged a single day.

Can Esme really be the reincarnation of pretty, perfect Amy? Certainly she seems to know far more about Amy and her life than she could possibly have been coached to know from the newspapers. Beth, understandably, is simultaneously desperate to believe that Esme and Amy are one and the same, and yet struggles to believe that reincarnation could be possible. Can she trust Libby and Esme? What about Ian, a local psychic who claims to know something about the case? And how will Brian, Beth's former husband, now remarried with two more children, react?

I can't deny that the basic premise of The Second Life of Amy Archer is an excellent plot driver, and the author's skill in characterisation really comes to the fore in Beth, a fascinatingly unreliable narrator consumed with guilt and grief. Just when we find ourselves wholly sympathetic towards her, there'll be a flash of mistrustful paranoia, a sudden mood-swing, a surprising judgement. There are times when every character in The Second Life of Amy Archer could be deceiving another, and this constant atmosphere of fearful uncertainty is one of the book's great strengths.

The book's biggest fault lies with the ending - or rather, last one-fifth or so of the story. My issue with it is not any lack of resolution, but rather that it seems a little anticlimactic, a little out of equilibrium with the novel's structure. I could also find fault with some of the dialogue, which too often had a touch of the Radio 4 drama script about it rather than reading authentically as the speech of real, ordinary people. I also felt that there were a few things relevant to the mystery plot that were 'forgotten' only to be brought up all-too-conveniently later, which felt like a tiny bit of a cop-out.

That said, it's an intriguing page-turner with a fascinating premise, and I'd happily read more by the same author. I'd give it three-and-a-half stars if Amazon would let me.
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VINE VOICEon 1 July 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
From the very first page I was hooked on Beth's story. Her strong voice led me confidently through the kidnapping of Amy Archer ten years ago and her apparent return in the present day. I was moved by the recollections and the aftermath of the kidnapping.

I didn't know what to expect from this book and was pleasantly surprised by the mystery of reincarnation and the dilemma Beth faced when confornted with Esme claiming she was Amy. Though I did get a little bit fed up of Beth's confusion and whether she believed as this was dragged out and repeated a little bit too much for my liking.

I did read this book in a few days as I couldn't wait to get back to it and find out what happened. Even though it was fantastic, I only gave it four stars as there are no definite answers at the end. Another thread of the story is revealed that could have added substance to Esme's claims, that are apparently disproved earlier on.

I am trying not to reveal too much so I ruin it for other readers completely; it is definitely worth a read to work it out for yourself.
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VINE VOICEon 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Beth's daughter has gone missing 10 years earlier and it becomes clear very quickly that Beth has had a tough time dealing with her loss. On the anniversary of Amy's disappearance a girl, with her mother, turns up at Beth's door, claiming to be the "reincarnation" of Amy, having been conceived on the night Amy went.
Beth narrates the story which works well as the reader only sees the plot from her slightly mentally unstable viewpoint. There is no attempt to get into the heads of the other characters making Beth always the focus. I liked this as it gave the book a pleasingly claustrophic feel but I did want to know some of the other people's opinions of Beth. Beth is well drawn and, although unpredictable sometimes, she is easy to relate to and I had sympathies with most of her actions.
It's a quick read at just over 300 pages (it took me less than 2 days).
The plot developed at a good pace which was essential due to the size of the book. I was unconvinced at the beginning about the reincarnation idea but, as it moved into much darker possibilities, the story became more feasible. My main criticism is that the plot feels a bit thin throughout, maybe a few more pages and more background story would be made this a much better book.
Interesting ending as well. I'm not sure that it will satisfy everyone but I found it interesting and it made me think.
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on 15 July 2013
The Second Life of Amy Archer
This debut psychological suspense novel by R.S Pateman is about the disappearance of 10 year old Amy Archer, the only child of Beth and Brian. Beth has never given up hope of finding Amy or at least finding out what happened to her. She is angry at her now ex-husband and the police for what she sees as giving up the search and turns to psychics in the hope that if Amy is dead she will contact her through the medium. 10 years later after yet another unsuccessful visit to a medium there is a knock on the door. The woman at the door then proceeds to tell Beth that Amy has been reincarnated in her daughter Esme who was the spitting image of Amy and who know things about Amy that she could not have reasonable been expected to know.
The back cover of this book says this is a must read for those who enjoyed Before I Go To Sleep . I haven't read it nor have I read many psychological suspense novels so I didn't know what to expect. However, I did really enjoy the book. The story is told mainly in the first person so for most of the book you only have Beth's account of what happened. Later in the book you hear from other voices who were involved in the disappearance of Amy by letters etc. It is then that we begin to get a wider picture of what happened. Beth was not an easy character to like even though you know that she had been traumatized by the disappearance of her daughter: in fact I don't think I really liked any of the characters until their stories started to unfold.
This would be an excellent choice for a book club as there would be much to discuss about the horror of losing a child, about parenting, child abuse and in the end just who was responsible for the disappearance of Amy Archer .
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on 17 July 2013
I was given a copy of 'Amy Archer' for promotional purposes and review. I can honestly say that it is a great debut novel and hope to read more from this author in the future.
Ten year old Amy Archer disappeared ten years ago after an argument with her best friend. Her mother, Beth, has since been living a nightmare. Will she ever find the answer to what happened to Amy? Her marriage has broken down and she has put her faith into psychics in order to find out the truth.
On the evening following an appointment with a new psychic, Ian, she is contacted by Libby who claims that her daughter Esme is Amy. Reincarnated.
The story is very cleverly written in the first person, present tense (apart from a portion in the second half of the novel where Beth is listening to evidence), with a totally believable female voice.

I felt I had a great intimacy with Beth as she began her quest for closure. Should we believe the reincarnation theory or is it just a hoax?
I too started to suspect many of the characters. Was Ian the psychic for real? Beth's friend Jan also seemed a bit odd to me.
I liked Dave, the Manchester cabbie, his great Northern charm and willingness to help.
The writer has managed to convey great menace and atmosphere together with fast moving dialogue- I was never bored reading this.
I would really recommend this as a good psychological suspense novel; it kept me guessing right up to the end. My only gripe would be just that - I'm still guessing. However this fact could give book groups much to debate upon!
So although one issue is resolved I had to go back and reread Beth's version of events of the day Amy went missing and still I can't decide who to believe.
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on 24 May 2014
This is a brilliant book I connected with Amy’s mum Beth straight way and felt sorry for her. The idea of ‘reincarnation’ worked really well. Beth is clearly grieving for her daughter and is shocked and confused when Libby and Esme turn up at her door with information about Amy. This book has some really good twists and turns in it and is both psychological and sinister in nature. I think this book will stay with me for a while. A must read for anyone who likes something to read that is a bit different.
5 Stars.
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VINE VOICEon 14 July 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I eagerly started this book, expecting something suspenseful, mysterious and perhaps supernatural. While it was compelling enough to keep me intrigued and finish within a couple of days, I felt a little underwhelmed by it. Perhaps the main issues was a lack of connection to any of the characters, who I found difficult to like at all. I also found some of the main character's (Beth) actions forced and unlikely.

This is a book that is easily read, without too much great effort. The theme is intriguing, fascinating and could have been fantastic. However the execution is just ok. I finished it, but I won't remember it.
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on 23 July 2013
Amy Archer had me intrigued right from the start and I couldn't help but make comparisons to Maddie (McCann) as I was reading, it was refreshing to read something from the parent's perspective when all you normally get in these situations is the media's interpretation of what happened.

I liked the idea of reincarnation but was relieved when Beth found the video from Dana as it seemed to explain the situation and bring the book back to reality. When they then found Dana's grandad, the librarian and Amy's body I thought the book may be leaning towards a conclusive ending so was actually quite glad when things didn't turn out that way as I thought it made it (sadly) more realistic. I LOVED the ending, I normally am a person that needs answers at the end of a book but I actually love the fact that I ended up with more questions than answers.

More than anything I finished the book feeling really quite disturbed and saddened, which actually is a very positive reflection I feel on the author!
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on 22 July 2013
From the first page I was drawn into Beth's deeply sad story as she continues to mourn her daughter - Amy - who went missing ten years ago. But this is no ordinary tale of grief and the book quickly notches up several emotional and dramatic gears when Beth is confronted by Esme. Esme is the image of Amy as she was a decade ago and knows things only Amy could know.

'The second life of Amy Archer' worked for me on many levels. As a thriller, it is tightly plotted and its twists and revelations kept me intrigued and needing to find out more. The portrayal of a mother's grief and her search to discover the truth felt very real and poignant. The book is also extremely well written: well worth trying to slow the page-turning down and taking time to enjoy the beautiful prose.

As for the ending, for me it delivered a powerful punch, making this a story that will stay with me for some time.
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I really enjoyed this book, I read it in 2 days as I couldn't put it down, but I was so disappointed in the ending, it was so inconclusive.
Ten years ago Beth lost her 10 year old daughter Amy when she vanished from a local park. No trace of her has been seen since, and no body ever found. Beth is living in limbo, she cannot accept or move on until she knows what happened, this obsession has seen her marriage break down and she does not socialise much. She pays a yearly visit to a psychic on the anniversary of Amy's disappearance but so far this has yielded nothing.
This year however, she sees a new psychic, and he tells her a little girl is close, but he gets the name wrong. Dismissive, Beth returns home where she is stunned by a visit from a stranger who tells her Amy is alive and she can show her. But although the child she brings to Beth's door is Amy's double, she is still only ten years old.
This is a very intriguing story which keeps the reader engrossed throughout and I raced through it. But the ending was a big let down, it left so many loose ends that were not tied up, and brought with it, new questions that were left unanswered. It was almost as if the author had set this fantastic mystery, but didn't know how to solve it himself. I even wondered if maybe part of my proof copy was missing because it finished so abruptly.
I give it 4 stars because for 99% of it you have a fantastic gripping read, but had to knock 1 star off for the disappointment at the end. Having said that, I think the author definitely knows how to tell a story and would certainly look out for more of his books in the future.
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