An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
By: T.R. Richmond
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 1/12/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
T. R. Richmond delivers a clever contemporary psychological novel WHAT SHE LEFT, centered around social media—love, obsession, and revenge. What happened to Alice Salmon? A mysterious, dark, and intriguing debut.
Alice Salmon is a journalist. Twenty- five years old, her body is found washed up on the riverbank in Southampton, south of London—creating a media frenzy. A music fan, bookworm, and a lover of the outdoors. An accident, a suicide, or murder?
Professor, Jeremy Cooke (Old Cookie), is an anthropologist, ready to retire. Alice was his former student. He is obsessed with documenting her life through her social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, comments, diaries, texts, letters, etc.). He sets out interviewing everyone she came in contact with. A strange bird, he is not well liked. Jeremy has no male friends except Larry, a childhood pen-friend he confides in. However, what is Mr. Cooke hiding? He has his own agenda. His legacy.
A gripping modern suspense, the author combines today’s digital age of social media, where nothing is a secret---and twisted entries and musings of Alice and her friends for a chilling tale, leaving your head spinning. An untold news story unfolds piece by piece.
Not any really likable characters, readers will need to put on their detective hat to try and read between the lines. Allowing readers to see temptations, moral consequences, stalkers, obsessions, and the dark side of cyberspace. Unlike a footprint in the sand, social media and the internet is more permanent. Opinions and judgments are formed. Where privacy is made public and cannot be so easy erased.
On Tumblr we often see “My Blog Speaks For Me.” Yes, we learn a lot about someone, by the pictures they post, even if there is no text or words. We form an opinion about the person behind the images.
“The lie that reveals the truth.” "A lie’s halfway round the world before the truth’s got its boots on." "Being honest isn’t hard; it’s the lying that’s hard." "The lie that reveals the truth." "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” ― Mark Twain
As always, I enjoy learning the inspiration behind the novel—the spark.
In 2012, journalist Tim Relf (pseudonym T R Richmond) was scrolling through his Twitter feed when he spotted someone musing on what song they would want played at their funeral. Millions of conversations like this play out on Twitter every day, but it struck him that it was actually a hugely intimate detail to share. It got the author thinking: what else could he learn about this person on social media?
That kernel of an idea grew into the plot for What She Left - a ‘whodunnit’ which attempts to untangle the death of a twenty-something woman by piecing together her digital legacy. The story is told through a series of tweets, Facebook posts, emails, playlists and forum comments, along with more traditional letters and diary entries.
I also enjoyed the author’s humor and other tidbits which I have included on my website.
I listened to the audio book prior to reading the digital copy. While the audiobook is very well done, Emilia Clarke (Alice Salmon) and Charles Dance ( Professor Cooke), it can get confusing with the back and forth of the dates and times; however; the narration and voices were true to their characters. I enjoyed following up with the digital copy, in order to follow along with the date entries, while bookmarking..
The novel is more about the journey than the destination, for me. Very cool, in real life---as an extension of the book, both leading characters have their own social media presence. Alice-Facebook; Cooke-Tumblr/Twitter.
Leaving us all with a question of what do we really leave behind? Perception. Interpretation. Perspective. We are leaving a trail in this complex internet world in our daily communication and interactions.
At its core, an intriguing well-written mystery and an exploration of human dynamics, grief, and loss with a unique twist. Fans of both literary and psychological suspense will enjoy the entertaining adventure.
Look forward to reading more from this talented author and savvy journalist.