I Know Who You Are
By Alice Feeney
‘What a ride, I loved this book and the brilliant Hitchcockian twist!’ Sarah Michelle Gellar
‘Twisty and gripping’ Jane Fallon
‘You will NEVER guess the ending of this one!’ Louise Candlish
‘A fiendishly well-plotted, deliciously dark and twisting read’ Lucy Foley
Hunstanworth Village Hall Book Group review: Nine members read this book. They gave it an overall score of 4/5.
In this dark and twisted psychological thriller readers are kept in suspense, wanting to know more, and questioning what they thought they already knew. It’s definitely a page turner, and a good read. However feelings about the book were mixed among members of our book group.
Some people found the passages about Aimee’s childhood too disturbing and upsetting to read, but nevertheless thought they were well written and read as a child’s thoughts and feelings might be. Some people really liked the book on first reading, but found it unsatisfactory later when we discussed it together, when they then felt that perhaps it had been too unbelievable for close scrutiny.
In many ways it is a book that plays with its readers’ emotions and assumptions, and by pulling the readers along in the wake of its fast-moving tale it leaves them without time to really analyse what is being revealed at each twist in the plot. Several people found it difficult to warm to any of the characters, but nevertheless the book generated plenty of discussion and debate. Everyone found it a very readable novel, despite the difficult issues it covers. Everyone thought that it was well written, and an easy read, with short chapters and plenty of cliff-hanger endings, and was a clever and engrossing story.
Rating: 9 members read the book. Average score 4 / 5
We received copies of the book via the HQ Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, and The Reading Agency (with thanks).
This book was difficult for our book club to review. We were encouraged by the praise heaped on her first novel and expected much of this one. Almost all of us thought it was well written and wanted to read to the end to find out what happened; however, that is where the problems began. We enjoyed the narration of the different timelines explaining how events had led up to the current crisis - Aimee’s husband Ben has disappeared along with the contents of her bank account. It appears that she herself emptied the account although she knows that not to be true. There begins a tail of mysterious and puzzling events which Aimee struggles to understand until the final denouement explains everything: except it doesn’t. The whole group found the ending very rushed, disappointing and completely unbelievable. None of the characters were likeable unfortunately and some of the incidents from “Aimee’s” childhood were distinctly unpleasant but these could have been forgiven had the story blossomed into something more credible. We would not recommend this book to others sadly and the score given was 5 out of 10.
Our book group never works to a set reading list, so it’s unusual for us to all read the same book at the same time. But thanks to the Reading Agency we recently obtained copies of a new thriller – I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney – to read and review. The book synopsis summarises the plot as follows:
‘Meet Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can't remember where from. Except one person. Someone knows Aimee very well. They know who she is and they know what she did. When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn't seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she's hiding something and they're right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she's never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.’
Our group has been running for nearly 18 months now. Getting to know and be at ease with each and comfortable about expressing our opinions, has made us realise that just being a fan of crime fiction doesn’t mean we all like and read the same sorts of books. Or even that we enjoy the same writers or writing styles.
I Know Who You Are is told through a series of flashbacks, interspersed with events of the present day. This literary device was something which generated a lot of discussion at our meeting. But it became clear that opinions also differed wildly on writing style, plot and characters.
Teasel felt the book was gripping in that she wanted to find out how it ended. But when she got there, thought it was much too far-fetched. She also thought there were too many loose ends and unexplained (or even glossed over) actions for it to be believable.
Cornish Eskimo and Oxo both disliked the book. They found the flashbacks disruptive and because they didn’t like the main female protagonist didn't really care what happened to her. They also felt the final twist of the story had only been written for its shock value, so in their view, it only rated 2-Stars.
But others in our group really enjoyed this book - namely Calendar Girl and Freyja, who it 4 and 4+ stars respectively.
One of the reading group questions in the back of the book asks: "Who is the main villain?" and at our meeting we had a good discussion about victim or villain. Calendar Girl found most of the characters fairly villainous, except perhaps one of the main male characters who was believable (and therefore likeable).
Freyja could see the flaws and loose ends in the plot but didn’t worry too much about them because the book was such a tour de force. She actually liked Aimee and enjoyed the convoluted plot and the outrageous ending. She didn’t think Aimee was a villain as much as a victim; and a rather likeable, and eventually quite feisty, heroine. And she didn't have an issue with the flashbacks, saying they kept her on her toes trying to keep track of the timelines. In her opinion Alice Feeney writes well, and has created a tense, dark and threatening atmosphere with a plot that's as convoluted as a corkscrew. She enjoyed reading it so much she finished it in one day and spent time afterwards thinking about the plot and getting the corkscrew straightened out in her mind.
There was one thing about this book that everyone did agree on. And that’s that it would make a good film or TV series. There’s something very visual about the story and the problems identified by some of us – especially the flashbacks and loose ends – could more easily be dealt with on screen. Maybe the book was written with this in mind.
More unpleasant people, leading horrible lives, lying to each other in a rancid stew of deceit. I just don’t like this genre, however, it was a free book club book, to our book club #novelideas. I found myself longing for it to end, but knew I’d have to go on a hideous journey to get there with a totally disturbed narrator. If Aimee’s bank card was rejected for a cup of coffee how did she use it for the rest of the novel without going to the bank? How did Eamonn have that type of cancer? So many unlikelihoods. It’s often good to have questions at the end of a book but not when they relate to loose ends, implausibilities and the sheer incredulity of the reader. The one I feel sorry for is Jack, she really going to foist the probably demented child of her incestuous relationship on him and his daughter? Perhaps Feeney is just setting this up as the premise for her next book - tortured and murdered by the person I thought was my step sibling but who was really the result of an incestuous relationship between my stepmother and her brother. And I don’t think that her language is clever, I think that it’s tricks, twists of phrases done again and again. Also, she’s repetitious, how many times do we have to be told that everyone is playing a part? I think Feeney has adopted a writing style she can repeat, with plotting which bears no examination and she’ll have shedloads of readers with happy silver smiles like the hooks in the penultimate chapter (yuk) I’ll not be one of them. At least I know not to read any Jane Corry books if she thinks this unravelling plot is ‘clever’.
Leigh Crime Reading Group
Junes Title was the psychological thriller “I know who you are.” by Alice Feeney.
Here are some of our reviews below:
“It was good watching Aimee as a child growing up, trusting new people in her life, despite the awful things they did to her, especially her “mum.” My only problem with this book was I found the ending confusing. Not sure what happened. Even so I would certainly recommend this book to any of my friends”
Pat. Crime Reading Group.
“Brilliant book!! I could not put it down. Interesting characters, numerous twists in the plot and a good ending. Certainly, one to recommend! My only problem was, having read this book is waiting for the next!!
Linda. Crime Reading Group.