Review by Samuele Frecchiero

Book Blog Tour - "In the wake" by Helen Trevorrow

I’m totally delighted to have the opportunity to participate in “In the wake” Book Blog Tour. Helen Trevorrow’s debut novel is a gripping and breath-taking feminist crime thriller about family, unrealised trauma, alcoholism, secrecy, and strong women.

The novel immediately plunges the reader into the core of the mystery. Valerie Lagarde, an agency nurse working at the St Mary’s Hospital, goes missing a few days before Christmas. Although the patients insistently ask Sister Williams about her, the chief nurse doesn’t bother to raise the alarm. After all - she thinks – Valerie is just another unreliable agency nurse who couldn’t cope with the work at the medical institution.
Kay Christie, a PR woman in career, is meeting her main client at the London Excel. While she’s getting to the building, she notices the police are retrieving a body from the Thames. Kay curiously peers over the white and blue tape surrounding crime scene. Her eyes unexpectedly meet the face of the dead man; she is shocked. She knows the man. She knows who he is: Lance Corporal Benedict Philips.
The death of the man doesn’t only affect Kay’s weak psychological state – she’s still grieving over her mother’s demise – but it involves her private life. Jim, Kay’s father, works as a security guard in the building which Kay’s client office is in, and the police consider him the main suspect. He has willingly deleted a part of the security cameras footage considered of relevant importance.
Kay is completely distressed. The police look for her father. Julia, her partner, overlooks her; the promotion and presentation of her debut novel are absorbing her more and more. The detective in charge of the investigation, DS Polly Harvey, triggers the woman’s sexual fantasies and ardent attraction.
In this vortex of events and emotions, Kay’s memories torment her. Benedict was a fellow soldier of Dave, her best friend; he harassed and attacked Kay during their holiday in Cyprus. Shockingly, Kay discovers that the missing nurse is Benedict’s girlfriend.
Focusing on Kay’s mental state and emotions, the novel unravels its mysteries and brings terrible secrets that people close to Kay have kept hidden to light. The truth behind this murder is deeper and scarier than what Kay thought.

The main characters are three determined and very strong women who have to face a tricky and difficult situation in which the fate plunged them into. Let’s have a close look at them.

KAY CHRISTIE: Kay is a perfect troubled woman. Firstly, the death of her mother hangs over her head like a sword of Damocles. The reader can feel that something is not right in Kay’s pain; there’s something deeper and more secret in the tragedy, something Kay doesn’t want to disclose. The recognition of the body of Benedict totally shocks her. The man was the typical arrogant chauvinist who had pestered and beaten her. He clearly considered women as a mere tool at his complete disposal. Consequently, in this moment of weakness, DS Polly Harvey pops in Kay’s life, causing troubles and doubts. The author describes in an amazing and simple way the sexuality of the characters without naively using it as a point plot or an unspeakable revelation; it is simply part of them. The redemption, however, comes to Kay at the end of the book, sorting positively her private and sentimental life.

JULIA ROTHMAN: I really liked this character. Initially, she seems disinterested and completely focused on her success as an author. Although she concentrates on her career, she quickly puts everything on the side to save her relationship. Julia, too, finds a sort of redemption at the end of the novel, strengthening the love for her partner.

DS POLLY HARVEY: she is pure temptation. Polly is younger than Kay and quite cute. The spark she causes in Kay immediately sets their relationship on fire, but the catastrophe is looming. Kay realises her mistake and decides that it’s better to interrupt the relationship before it becomes too serious. DS Harvey is the only character that doesn’t find her personal redemption. The sad reality leaves her hurt and disappointed.

helen trevorrow