Sunday, 7 July 2013

Who’s that Girl?

Anna Rothman – the lead character in Girl on a Train 

This psychological thriller starts with a series of odd events that take place on a mainline train from Portsmouth to Waterloo. I liked the idea of having a lead character who happened to be at the 'wrong place and the wrong time', who, with a sharp mind and the passion to pursue loose ends, steps in and challenges the police. I also liked the fact that anyone could be a bystander to a fatal incident and choose to get involved.

So, headstrong Anna Rothman came into being. She’s 28 and lives alone in an attic flat in Richmond, Surrey, having lost her husband, Jeff, to suicide two years ago. She’s still not ready to risk fully engaging with life or to take a chance on a new romantic relationship and she’s kept Jeff’s secret all this time; no one else knows the reason why he took his own life.

Anna is a journalist with a background in psychology. She used to be an investigative journalist, but was nudged out of the rat-race by cut-throat competition and now writes features for women’s magazines. 

Anna says: ‘Over the last five years, I’ve written stories about everything from yoga pole-dancing to people who house swap, from spending a night at the Children in Need call centre to a day with a horse-whisperer.’  

It might sound interesting to an outsider, but deep down Anna misses the thrill of the chase.

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Anna finds a seat next to agitated passenger, Elly Swift, and is haunted by the pleading look on her face when she suddenly gets up to leave. Anna knows something is seriously wrong. She knows, for a start, that Elly has a ticket all the way to Waterloo - so what makes her rush off at an obscure place in Hampshire, called Micheldever, looking like she’s seen a ghost? The train jolts to a halt at a level-crossing and it’s clear that someone is lying on the tracks. The police quickly close the case, certain that factors point irrefutably to a straightforward suicide - but Anna believes otherwise.

Image: 'Personalised-Jewellery'
Anna finds a locket in her bag she can’t open, convinced Elly dropped it there as she left the train and a series of other incidents occur giving Anna the gut feeling that Elly’s death wasn’t suicide. It’s enough to set her investigative juices flowing and she sets off determined to uncover the truth, although the reader is never sure how much Jeff’s death is colouring Anna’s version of events.

Caught up in the obsession to find out what happened to Elly, Anna is smart, tenacious, feisty and fiercely independent. Her sensitivity means she manages to sneak into Elly’s life claiming to be her friend, with empathy and without suspicion. But, in eventually turning a cut-and-dried case upside down, Anna discovers further devastating truths that end up being rather too close to home.

Find Girl on a Train in paperback or e-book at Amazon and read the opening FREE.

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