Book Review

What Alice Knew by T. A. Cotterell


Rating: ★★★★☆

What Alice Knew is one of those books that I’d heard a lot about from social media and fellow bloggers, and I was thrilled to receive an early proof copy to review on my own blog.

Alice Sheahan has a perfect life.  Happily married to Ed, she has two children, Nell and Arthur, and is completely content with relatively few concerns.

Until Ed goes missing one night, and, when questioned, can’t remember what happened.  Or claims not to, at least.  Alice needs to know what’s going on, but when she finds out, she discovers that ignorance really is bliss.  And now Alice is left with a dilemma, and her choice will affect not only her, but also those that she loves the most.

What Alice Knew is a little different to many thrillers, in that it’s not really a whodunnit.  This is more about dealing with the aftermath of the “it”.  I won’t be specific, but the “it” happens relatively early on in the novel, and the subsequent pages show the impact on Alice and Ed’s lives, and how they decide to deal with it.  That’s not to say that the who, what and why are entirely clear, however, as What Alice Knew ticks the unreliable narrator box, but this is a novel that, to me, was predominantly about how Alice, whose perspective it’s told from, copes as her life is turned upside-down.

Whilst this adds an element of originality to the novel, for me it meant that the novel was a little slow-going in places as it’s largely about them trying to go on with their day to day lives with some semblance of normality.  That said, this is still a compelling read, and I did want to see how it would end for Alice and Ed.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a thriller without a twist in the tale, and I really liked the conclusion.  It’s wasn’t what I expected, but after reading the novel, I can see that it made perfect sense.

What Alice Knew is an excellent novel, and particularly impressive as a debut.  It’s well-written and the plotting is top-notch – T. A. Cotterell is definitely one to watch.

What Alice Knew will be published by Black Swan as an eBook on 1 December 2016, and in paperback on 20 April 2017.  Many thanks to Rebecca Hunter for providing a copy for review.


  1. Great review! It’s always nice to know if something is a true ‘whodunit’ or ‘whydoneit’ etc. This title keeps reminding me of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty which I so loved:)

  2. I put this one on my list a few weeks ago. Hopefully when I read it in paperback or hardback I will enjoy it as much as you did.

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