I love a good thriller, the sort of book that you can’t put down, racing to turn the pages and get to the end. The sort of book that makes you check your windows and doors are closed at night, sees you looking over your shoulder when you are out alone, and generally gives you a feeling of uneasiness and yet still leaves you wanting to read on. ‘Last Bank Holiday’, the debut novel by writer Christina Delmonte, is just such a book, a claustrophobic tale that twists and turns so much you may start to feel dizzy.
The lead character Karen has a charmed life with her handsome husband Will and two beautiful daughters. They are successful, have a beautiful show home, cars, holidays, designer clothes and jewellery. They seem to have it all. But one Bank Holiday changes all that, when they are brutally robbed and attacked as they spend what should be an idyllic weekend in a forest log cabin. In an instance, their life as they know it is destroyed, all by this seemingly random attack. But is it as random as it seems, or as actions of the past caught up with them?
The writing is taut and paints its pictures well, ensuring that you can see, hear and even smell the scenes, actions and characters vividly as your progress through the tale. Karen is a great lead character, strong even though her life is being torn apart, and your sympathies are always with her, especially as you discover, first through flashbacks, and then in the present, the situation with her mother, who is suffering in the throes of Alzheimer’s, with increasingly heartbreaking events occurring both before and after the attack. Christina Delmonte based much of this side of the tale on her own mother, and that is why it resonates so much, feeling so devastatingly real.
The format of the story, being told from different viewpoints, and in the past and present, could be jarring. Instead it keeps the story flowing and also helps the twists and turns to occur throughout the story, rather than at the end. That said, the final reveal is still shocking, and adds a real poignancy to the story.
Last Bank Holiday is a fine debut, one that you should add to your Summer reading list.