I’m always a little tentative when starting a crime thriller novel by someone whose work I haven’t read before, but when Sharon Bolton’s Like This, Forever has a complimentary quote from my favourite writer, Tess Gerritsen, emblazoned on the front, I assumed I was on safe ground.
And I very much was. Quite frankly, Like This, Forever, was the best book I read all year. Not just the best crime thriller, but the best book in general, and that’s after reading both Girl on the Train and Tess Gerritsen’s Playing with Fire.
The book starts with one of the greatest monologues I have read in fiction for a very long time. Within two sentences I could see everything in my script-writer’s mind’s-eye. A claustrophobic room, a damaged young woman, and one of the darkest, best written speeches I’ve ever read. I could hear every word in my head, see it being performed in acute detail. That for me, is when I know a book has got me good. When my brain starts transforming words on the page to camera angles and vocal deliveries, I know a book is going to take me for one hell of a ride.
So it’s safe to say Like This, Forever got off to a pretty good start, and it certainly didn’t slow down to let me catch my breath at any point. For the majority of the novel I had no less than four suspects that I couldn’t choose between and it seemed as though every time I managed to discard one of my suspects, a new one took their place, and sometimes they managed to land themselves back in my suspicions just a few chapter later.
The events of the novel sent me twisting and turning at an alarming rate all the way through, and I ended up figuring it out just three chapters before it was officially revealed – which is pretty rare for me.
The novel had just the right amount of characterisation for me. I didn’t feel as though we spent too much time in any characters head, and the variety of characters that were focused on never really took any of the focus from the dark, twisting, tension-filled plot line.
While this was an excellent plot, with plenty of wrong turns and dark alleys on the way to the big reveal, it was, in my opinion, largely character driven – as any good novel should be. We get given sections from three main characters, with a fourth and fifth getting a few sections each as well. But oddly, the definition of each character meant that within a few sentences you knew which character you were following without it being too explicit. The characters were incredibly well defined and each character was as strong as the next.
Lacey and Dana were a little disappointing for me. But not enough for them to be a major problem for the book. I’m just a little sick of having the beautiful women in novels being viewed as ‘damaged’ and ‘suspicious’. And can we please get away from the idea that professional women are automatically suspicious of and pit against one another???
Other than that small blip, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any other novel this year as much as I did this one.
The use of a psychological profiler and the depth of psychological knowledge in this novel was just another wonderful treat in this book, one which I find is all too often ignored in the Crime Thriller. The focus on psychology here, really cemented the book in my head and gave the killer depth, and (to some extent) a sense of relatability, a sense of empathy that makes the hatred and disgust we feel towards murderers all the better, because really, we’re ashamed of the way we feel for them.
The killer was, in my opinion, very well concealed right until the end, and even when he was revealed, he still needed catching. There was a knot in my stomach for a large proportion of the book, as I waited with baited breath for the killer to be revealed and when they were, I was not disappointed.
There were also some very clever references to two of my all time favourite stories inter-weaved skillfully throughout this novel, which I greatly appreciated as a literary fan. Though to identify the two stories in question would reveal too much, so I guess you’ll just have to read the book and find out for yourselves.
In short, if you’re a Crime Thriller fan and you haven’t read Sharon Bolton’s Like This, Forever, yet, you’re missing out.