Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe – An American thriller with an Unreliable Narrator

This is a book of obsession. Told in the first person this is the story of a woman who is an unreliable narrator of her own story. She is a hunter, a thinker, a commentator on her own situation in all its gory detail. This is a story that pulls no punches in describing the minute details of her progress; as the tale proceeds the reader is caught up in a campaign of observation, full of the underlying threat of murder. A woman scorned is indeed a dangerous thing, and this is a book full of dark hints that it is only a matter of time before murder is done. This is an intriguing book to review for a blog tour, so I am grateful to receive a copy.

“Clo”, a shortened form of a name which is difficult to find the truth of, discovers that her husband is a having an affair. Moreover, he returns to their home and demands a divorce, with physical violence to emphasise his point. Using her skills as a police forensic photographer and her knowledge of murder investigations, she plans to get her revenge against her husband’ mistress. As this is contemporary America, she has a gun which she knows how to use, and she visits The Hamptons, the beautiful houses which look out onto a stunning beach, to find out how to gain access to her target. She carefully swops cars, parks out of sight, adopts a disguise and views the beach, house and lifestyle of the amazing Marion. While she has carefully worked out all the angles, the use of drugs to calm her excessive anxiety, a lot of caffeine and some alcohol begin to make her more unreliable as a narrator, especially as she is increasingly anxious about her husband and her own welfare. Chillingly, she dyes her hair and has been dieting to make her appearance similar to Marion’s; this is a woman with full knowledge of what she wants to do, but uncertain the best way to do it. She is hampered by a colleague who is intrigued by her situation, and things begin to swirl out of her control as the unexpected and terrifying begin to close in on her.

This is a thriller set in two very different communities in contemporary America, where advanced technology contributes to the oppressive tension of a woman on a mission. Clo’s actions swing from the precise to the inexplicable, as she becomes increasingly desperate and events crowd in on her. I found this book unsettling and sometimes confusing, as the author seemed to find it necessary to repeat certain feelings and actions by the protagonist, though this was probably a device to illustrate her confusion and fear. This is not an easy book to read on many levels, with an uncertain time line, changing characters and a degree of brutality which can be off putting. It does succeed in creating an atmosphere, a sense of place, and a voice for a woman pushed over the edge. This is a frightening book because it is so intense, so vocal in terms of what could and will happen, fearsome because Clo becomes so embroiled in her plans. Undoubtedly a strong book, this is a female led thriller which lingers in the mind.

Yesterday we went to see something very different from the above – the film “Mary Poppins Returns”. Having many happy memories of the original 60s film, and the more recent “Saving Mr Banks”, we were keen to  find out what this new film was like, and we were not disappointed. The acting was superb, the photography very special, and the score quite wonderful. I did feel it was a little long, especially for a younger audience, but it is certainly a worthy sequel to the first film, and i would love to see it again.