The Beach by Sarah Linley

beach

It should have been paradise. But it turned into hell…

It was supposed to be the perfect trip. Four friends, fresh out of university, backpacking around Thailand. But among the sun, sea and sand, something went horribly wrong…

In the years since, Holly has tried hard to push memories of that terrible summer from her mind. Now a schoolteacher, she believes her life is finally coming together when she meets Tom and his adorable five-year-old son, Jack.

But then, Holly starts receiving anonymous messages, showing photos which Holly was sure she destroyed years ago. Someone clearly knows the truth about what really happened. The only question is, how far will they go to get revenge?

My review:

This book captured me from the beginning. We first meet Holly leaving her boyfriend Tom’s house, after a lunchtime tryst and quickly learn she’s a schoolteacher in their village. On her way back to the school she witnesses a girl fall into the river and rescues her. The incident brings up memories of a tragic trip after college, and the story is told in alternating timelines – both present day, and also eight years ago in college and five years ago backpacking through Asia on their grand summer trip.

Holly finds herself with a stalker, suddenly receiving messages from fake accounts or burner phones, deliveries, letters left at her house, yet she is afraid of the consequences of the truth coming out of what happened on that trip so she keeps it quiet.

One thing that was different about this book than most other suspense novels is that we know who the stalker is from the beginning. But yet we still feel that chilling feeling of not knowing, because we don’t know what happened that night either.

There is so much sadness in this book – the horrific night five years previously broke up a group of best friends, destroyed lives, and left more than one family grieving the loss of their child. Yet there is also goodness – Holly’s rescue of Samantha, a family in crisis getting the help they so desperately need, a boy abandoned by his mother finding maternal love again, the support of a good friend.

The book is very well written. The descriptions were vivid without being wordy and burdensome, just enough to make me envision the scenery, feel the rain and the cold – or the heat in the case of the backpacking trip flashbacks. Ms Linley did a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life, and even causing us to feel compassion and empathy with the antagonist.

But then that epilogue…

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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About the author:

Sarah Linley lives in Yorkshire and works as a Communications Manager for a housing charity.
She spent two years backpacking around South-East Asia with her husband. Their travels inspired her debut novel, The Beach.
When she is not writing, she enjoys walking in the Dales with her dad and his dog.

 

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