Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Accidents Happen, by Louise Millar

Atria/EmilyBestler Books, ISBN 9781451656701, June 2013

Kate Parker is living a stressful life, and most of the stress is generated inside her own head. She's obsessed with statistics--two glasses of wine lower your risk of a heart attack, but three increase you chances of cancer, 85% of bicycle casualties involve riders not wearing helmets, etc. She governs her own life by the pursuit of the greatest possible safety, and does the same with her eleven-year-old son, Jack.

There's a reason for her anxiety, and her desperate attempts to keep her son and herself perfectly safe. On her wedding night, her parents died in a bizarre accident, killed when the taxi taking them home, driving on a dark road, hit a dead elk who had been shot by a poacher and then stumbled off to die in the road. Six years later, her beloved husband Hugo is killed by a gang of young toughs out to steal his expensive new sports car. It's all too much, and Kate is fighting fate to keep her son safe. To that end, she moved from London to Oxford, to be near her in-laws, so that they could help with Jack.

But her in-laws are increasingly worried by the effects of her paranoia on Jack. And when she starts finding small things missing, or says she does, and hearing strange noises, everyone knows it's Kate's anxiety kicking into overdrive.

Even Kate knows this.

But even paranoids have real enemies, and something is not right.

The exploration of Kate's anxiety, her struggles to overcome it, and the complex and treacherous emotional relations among Kate and Jack, her parents-in-law Richard and Helen, and sister-in-law Saskia are absorbing and convincing. The riddle of what's really going on, and the roots of the family troubles is also extremely well done, intriguing and not at all obvious. I was mentally on the edge of my seat all the way to the end.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Book trailer