By Ekta R. Garg
December 7, 2016
Rated: Borrow it / 3 stars
A woman goes through the harrowing experience of first learning that her daughter was killed and then sitting through the killer’s trial. Although the police deem the case airtight, later the mother must deal with certain unsettling facts that make her wonder whether the right person got tabbed with the crime. Author Eleanor Gray makes her thriller debut with the mostly satisfying book Don’t Tell Anyone.
Grace Neville has lived through the worst life can throw at her. Her husband cheats on her and they get a divorce. Years later, their only daughter, Tara, is brutally murdered. The accused: Tara’s boyfriend, Jordan. Despite Jordan’s repeated assertions that he would never hurt Tara, the police use Jordan’s strong associations with a gang to make the natural assumption.
Finally, after Jordan’s trial, conviction, and sentencing to 18 years in prison, it seems as though Grace might have a chance to trying to spend some time understanding what her life has become. The debilitating loneliness threatens to overwhelm her, but she tries to take in one day at a time. After all, she’s experienced the most awful circumstances. Surely nothing can hurt or surprise her anymore.
Nothing—except the fact that Alan, Jordan’s father, shows up on Grace’s doorstep insisting on Jordan’s innocence. Grace wants to dismiss him and his audacious claim, but as he talks a small worm of doubt begins to wiggle its way into her certainty. When someone breaks into her apartment and goes through Tara’s things, Grace begins to realize that Alan might be telling the truth. Or some version of it anyway.
As she starts asking questions and digging into her daughter’s life, Grace understands that the entire situation surrounding Tara’s death may not be quite as straightforward as she once thought. She tries to reach out to her ex-husband, but that becomes difficult because he still lives with his mistress. Also, something about her ex-husband’s caginess regarding his relationship with Tara doesn’t feel right to Grace. The entire thing, in fact, doesn’t feel right, but the answers she gets to her questions just keep leading to more questions.
Author Eleanor Gray keeps the line of tension taut in Don’t Tell Anyone. The title fits the book well. At every turn, main character Grace faces more secrets and more inquiries. She barely unravels one when another one comes right along to confound her yet again. Gray manages to convey Grace’s immense grief in Tara’s death while at the same time moving the story forward.
Because the story is set in England, Gray uses a great deal of cultural slang. Non-native readers might not recognize all of the phrases, but the context allows for enough inference. Most readers will probably enjoy the chance to indulge in a different vernacular, but occasionally they might feel lost during some non-essential parts of story. The slang definitely adds to the authenticity of Grace’s situation and state in life, however, so readers will most likely forgive Gray her choice to stay well established in that speaking style.
The antagonist will certainly come as a surprise, although the revelation of that person’s involvement in Tara’s death feels slightly rushed. Still, for the most part readers will enjoy the reliable pace of the book. I recommend readers Borrow Don’t Tell Anyone.
(I volunteered to write an honest, objective review of this book after receiving a copy from the publisher.)