When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back…
Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.
Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.
So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she’s unleashed?
The Rumour by Lesley Kara is a very original, mind-blowing debut novel that truly does have the reader guessing until the very last sentence.
Single mother, Joanna, decides to move back to her hometown to be closer to her family after finding out her only son, Alfie, has been bullied in his London school.
In an attempt to fit in, and also help her son make some new friends, Joanna shares a rumour she heard on the school playground with her book club.
It was only a small piece of gossip when she first heard it but, before she knows it, the suspected news that former child killer, Sally McGowan, has moved to Flinstead-on-Sea becomes the talk of the town.
The rumour Joanna helped spread has a contagion effect on her and the rest of the town as she battles to protect everything and everyone she holds dearly.
The book is psychologically very intriguing as it makes one wonder how even the smallest action, like passing a bit of gossip to make friends, can have the biggest repercussion.
Joanna has a tough persona but is intrigued by others around her, as is shown in her work as an estate agent – she tends to be a bit nosy. She comes across as laid back in her job but ferocious when it comes to protecting her son.
The main character has many flaws but the author made it clear that Joanna is very kind and warm, not someone who would usually or purposely inflict harm on others. This was demonstrated when the main character was riddled with guilt after numerous residents targeted an innocent local lady who they believed could have been Sally McGowan just because of what she had said.
There are many characters who are deemed suspicious in the novel, from close friends to creepy strangers. The author’s compelling writing is able to keep the reader guessing who the real villain in the plot is throughout the novel. It is easy to get confused as to who is causing havoc in the town, as in Joanna’s eyes everyone is a suspect and out to get her.
One particularly interesting character was journalist Michael, Alfie’s father and Joanna’s ex-partner. Since he does not live near them and pops up at her address whenever suits him, he comes across as quite mysterious and it is difficult to know whether he is someone who can be trusted.
The relationship between Michael and Joanna is quite modern. At the start of the book, the main character states that their friendship was more important for their son than anything else. The book displays numerous reactions to this, from her mother wishing she would settle down to other parents on the playground making snide comments.
Kara’s novel is written in the first person and narrated by Joanna. However, there is the odd chapter where there is a different perspective. This new person is unknown to the reader but has a menacing voice and is out for revenge. Trying to figure out who the other narrator is adds another twist to the story that increases the reader’s curiosity.
The book deals with themes surrounding isolation and self-worth but also revolves around family and friendships. There is a good balance between the lighthearted moments and intense scenes. It delves into deep topics that show one could never understand what goes on inside someone else’s mind and it is better not to judge someone on something you have never experienced.
This is one of those books that could easily be turned into a successful blockbuster hit with its unforeseeable twists and turns.
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