I thought she was our friend.
I thought she was trying to help us.
After the sudden death of her husband, Tess is drowning in grief. All she has left is her son, Jamie, and she’ll do anything to protect him – but she’s struggling to cope.
When grief counsellor Shelley knocks on their door, everything changes. Shelley is beautiful, confident and takes control when Tess can’t bear to face the outside world.
But when questions arise over her husband’s death and strange things start to happen, Tess begins to suspect that Shelley may have an ulterior motive. Tess knows she must do everything she can to keep Jamie safe – but who can she trust?
Following the death of her husband, Tess is struggling to cope with her grief and the impact that Mark’s absence has on her. Tess knows that she has to make an effort, but everything feels so much harder without Mark there to turn to for comfort and advice. When grief counsellor Shelley enters her life, Tess begins to feel a bit more hopeful. Shelley has had her own experience of losing someone close to her – an experience which prompted her to make the move into grief counselling – and always knows exactly what to do or say to put Tess at ease, to make the grief that little bit easier to deal with, and Shelley soon becomes indispensable to Tess.
I thought that Tess was a fantastic character, and one that it was so easy to empathise with. Her situation is heart-breaking, and North’s portrayal of a woman who is grieving and struggling to cope with the death of her husband was pitch perfect. There are bad days, and there are days that are, if not good, at least marginally better than others. In Shelley, Tess sees someone to aspire to – someone who has been in the same dark place that she is currently inhabiting, but someone who has come out the other side. And Shelley exerts a positive influence in subtle ways – doing a little cleaning to make the home that little bit more comforting, helping Tess to get out of the house, and just by being there to talk to or as a shoulder to cry on. She is exactly what Tess needed.
I don’t want to talk about the plot as it would be all too easy to give the game away, but I loved the structure of The Perfect Betrayal. Set predominantly in the weeks following Mark’s death, chapters are flagged as being x days until Jamie’s birthday. I thought that this very simple idea worked perfectly to increase the tension as North builds up to the big reveal. It’s clear throughout that something is not quite right, but the hints are subtle, leaving the reader with a general feeling of unease which intensifies as the novel progresses.
The Perfect Betrayal is a novel to read in a single sitting – I desperately wanted to know what would happen. The plot is taut and gives a sense of foreboding throughout, and even though I thought I knew what was going on, I didn’t actually work it out until the last minute. This is a brilliantly written novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to fans of psychological thrillers.
The Perfect Betrayal is published by Corgi on 14 March in e-Book followed by the paperback on 27 June. Many thanks to Hayley Barnes and to the publisher for the early review copy.