When Tess Gerritsen writes the blurb on the front cover that "quite simply this is the best debut novel I've ever read" you think it must be a cracker. You hope that she didn't just say that as a literary "favour". She didn't. She is right. This is the best debut novel I've ever read. I read a heck of a lot and this is easily in my top five of all time. I met the author at a book signing and decided to buy the book on the back of his sales pitch. The main character Christine has severe amnesia after an accident. She wakes up every morning thinking she is 27 years old when in fact she is 47 and has no memory of the last 20 years. Every morning she wakes up next to her husband, Ben, who is a stranger to her and has to begin a monotonous and frightening routine of understanding her condition. The relationship between Ben and Christine is a repetitive, compelling dynamic and you ask yourself quickly, would I be able to cope with this if my partner suffered this condition? Christine begins working with a new consultant who insists she make a journal of her day. This way she can log events and see if it helps with her memory. Each morning she wakes up and reads the journal to get some continuity to her life. At the end of the first chapter, Christine wakes up one morning as she does every other morning unaware of where she is or what her life has become. She opens her diary and sees three words..."don't trust Ben. "
It's a fabulous thriller. I read it literally in one day, two sittings. It manages to be a powerful psychological thriller without any gratuitous sex and very little swearing. It is edgy, uncomfortable in parts and what is brilliant about the story telling is that we as readers join Christine in trying to unravel her life. There are twists, shocks, and you never know who to believe or what is going on. Towards the end there are a few liberties taken in terms of plot but it's nothing Hollywoodesque.
The book reminded me a little of "The Collector" by John Fowles a book which was written in the 70's. Very similar in terms of uncomfortable psychological thriller.
SJ Watson is a new star in the literary world. I read that Ridley Scott has snapped up the movie rights for this film and I can see why.
Stellar debut. Fantastic plot with a sledge hammer ending. Mr Watson I am a fan.