The cover caught my attention first. The cold blue, the plants, the water bubbles I couldn´t imagine what they had to do with the thriller content. And the summary sounded very haunting. Despite the fact, that the author was new to me, I was going into this read with curiosity, and no expectations at all. All I hoped for was to be well entertained.

Precious Thing*
by Colette McBeth
Publisher Headline Review on August 1, 2013
Genre Thriller
Pages 352
Format Paperback
Source Publisher*

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good? Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever. They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted.  Now in their late twenties, Rachel has everything while Clara´s life is spiraling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes. Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you´ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it.
Rachel has not seen her best friend Clara in ages and wanted to meet her in a small-town club. Instead, she meets some former schoolmates there – no sign of Clara. Shortly thereafter, Rachel has to realize with horror that her friend has disappeared and is being sought by the police. A murderous cat-and-mouse game takes its course, during which Rachel has to realize in shock that she has fallen victim not only to a cruel plan but also that from once infinite trust, has become absolute hatred. 

The protagonist seems to conduct a kind of monologue with Clara without her being there, reminiscing-albeit in a negative way. In the course of the plot, a brutal truth comes to light that almost disrupts Rachel´s sanity and lets her life fall apart piece by piece. Colette McBeth writes refreshingly, unfussy, and simple. Her vocabulary is gorgeous and incredibly varied. The author has a very individual character to describe the scenes and places. I could smell the stifling air of the house where Rachel lived for a while, the way I saw the perfect sterility of her London apartment in front of me, or the storm-swept beach in the night as she braced herself against the gusts of wind, and finally stood in front of one of the beach huts. Although Colette McBeth has a strangely restrained way of describing things, and Rachel recapitulates everything with a peculiar mixture of sarcasm and irony, her memory reminded me of everything very clearly. Nevertheless, I could not help feeling that I experience it all with a strange detachment and yet – grotesquely – in the action are fully in it. Sure, I did read each line carefully, but the thriller content did not really touch me. Maybe it was just this distance that did not let me put the book out of my hands – so fascinating was the content. Does that make sense?

Colette McBeth throws her characters into a murderous psycho game in which it is not always clear who is good and who is evil. Every character convinces and looks like taken from life. There is the surgeon´s daughter Clara, who missed the mother in her life painfully and shows this in a corresponding behavior. Rachel grew up without a father and suffers from her mother´s alcohol excesses for as long as she can remember. When the two girls meet at school, the spark immediately jumps over, and a drama takes its course, which has a lot in it. Anyone who thinks that adult psychopaths are already dangerous has never seen such a teenager – and certainly not a female one.

Clara is a beauty as she is in the book. Her charisma and charm bring even the driest character to their knees. But she is also depressed and unpredictable. Must always be in the center of attention under all circumstances. She needs the submissive and admiring nature of Rachel. When Rachel eventually frees herself from the forced role and goes her own way, Clara does not fit at all and reacts accordingly. 

A bizarre and thrilling story that tells of abysmal hatred and boundless trust, but also of perfidious revenge plans and the dark reasons of a female psyche. An incredibly fresh and eloquent novel. Psychology is brilliant and the plot extremely sophisticated. If you like to read a thriller that is a bit different from all the others, this is your book.

Happy reading

*I read the German edition released by Blanvalet on November 25, 2013 

Colette McBeth
Colette McBeth ©Paul Curran

Colette McBeth is the critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers Precious Thing, The Life I Left Behind and An Act of Silence. Colette was a BBC TV News television correspondent for ten years, during which time she covered many major crime stories and worked out of Westminster as a political reporter. In 2011 she won a place on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and started her first book Precious Thing. Although she´s Scottish, she moved to England as a child and now lives in Hove with her husband and three children. 


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