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His & Hers


His & Hers

In some ways, Alice Feeney’s new psychological thriller, HIS & HERS, gives us exactly what we would expect. The narrative is constructed largely in alternating chapters, each of which offers either “his” or “her” perspectives on events as they unfold. We soon discover that these two points of view share a tragic history, one that colors how they relate to the crimes at the novel’s center --- and to one another.

The “her” of the book’s title is Anna Andrews, a BBC newsreader who discovers that the anchor for whom she had been a maternity replacement has finally (after more than two years) decided that she has had enough of full-time motherhood and is ready to return to work. Anna is unceremoniously moved back to her old reporting beat, which has her feeling more than a little resentful, especially when her very first assignment sends her to Blackdown, the small town where she grew up and where her mother still lives, gradually succumbing to dementia.

"The book is elegantly riddled with red herrings, false suspicions and investigative dead ends."

The “his” of the title is Detective Chief Inspector Jack Harper, who also has recently returned to Blackdown after several years in London. Being the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in this small town is usually not very exciting --- that is, until a woman Jack not only knows but has been sleeping with turns up violently murdered only hours after the two of them were last together.

When Anna shows up to report on the crime, her path naturally crosses with Jack’s, and the two of them are compelled to renegotiate a relationship they thought they had left behind them. But then bodies start to accumulate, and evidence (in the form of identical friendship bracelets left with all the bodies) seems to suggest that someone is enacting a vendetta against the cruelties of youth.

Feeney’s novel grows increasingly complex in its narrative structure, with the killer also inserting his or her point of view in italicized sections, and the reminiscences of the past beginning to intrude upon the present. The book is elegantly riddled with red herrings, false suspicions and investigative dead ends. In the end, readers may come to discover that they didn’t know exactly what to expect after all.

SOMETIMES I LIE, Feeney’s debut novel, already has been in development as a television series, and it’s easy to imagine that HIS & HERS could work equally well on the big or small screen. Its exciting storytelling and steadily building suspense --- not to mention its truly surprising conclusion --- are binge-worthy indeed.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 31, 2020

His & Hers
by Alice Feeney