The Rumour is one of those novels that I heard a lot about in the lead up to its publication, but never quite got around to buying until I saw it reduced to £0.99 as part of some Kindle deal or other. And I’m so glad I did! This is a fast-paced and absorbing read that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.
When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back…
Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.
Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.
So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she’s unleashed?
What happens when Joanna first hears the rumour at the school gates has a sense of inevitability about it, in terms of the way in which people begin to point the finger in suspicion as the rumour begins to spread. And Joanna doesn’t mean to be the one that spreads the rumour. She initially mentions it at her book group when one of the other ladies is clearly uncomfortable at the interrogation into her private life, and Joanna mentions this titbit of gossip as a way of detracting attention from the unfortunate individual. Whatever her intentions – and there’s a saying about good intentions paving the way to hell – it’s soon all over the small community of Flinstead-on-Sea, and it doesn’t take long for this small, quiet town to be gripped by the rumour as everyone develops their own theories as to the identity of the infamous Sally McGowan.
One element I loved throughout the novel were the small sections told from Sally McGowan’s perspective, which reveal to the reader her growing dread at once again being discovered and having to move and restart her life once more. Lesley Kara does touch upon the ethics of such a scenario, and whether those who murder another in these circumstances deserve to be given a new life, a new identity, and the chance to start over when the family of the victim suffer so much. For those such as Sally McGowan, there aren’t many options, vigilante justice being what it is, and I enjoyed the way on which Kara highlights that it is not always a new life, but rather a life sentence of loneliness, as hiding such a secret and not being able to fully reveal who you are will take its toll on anyone over time.
From the beginning, I had my own suspicions as to who Sally McGowan would turn out to be and I was correct, although this is a novel in which proves to be thoroughly absorbing regardless of whether you believe you’ve identified the person in question or not. There are plenty of red herrings to make you question your judgement as different characters come under suspicion.
The Rumour is a fantastic novel with a beautifully simple premise, and it’s a novel that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Lesley Kara’s second novel, Who Did You Tell? is published on 5 December as an eBook and in January in hardback, and I already have it on pre-order!