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K. L. Slater a major new talent, delivers a dark, mind-boggling, and twisty psychological debut thriller: SAFE WITH ME. Set aside the time, “unputdownable.”
Creepy, chilling tension builds with more twists, turns, and secrets than you can imagine combined with Anna’s escalating mental state, and dangerous obsession. No one is safe here.
As the thriller opens with stunning prose, there seems to be a fire. Sadness, fear, and someone walks away. There is a mysterious person speaking, here and again towards the end of the book. This person is dark, scary, and very troubled. The identity is not revealed until the explosive ending, adding to the intrigue.
Present Day Anna Age 33. An unreliable narrator. An accident. She sees a silver car coming the other way moving too fast. The driver loses control and veers over to the wrong side of the road. It happens quickly. The car hits the motorbike in front of her and the rider flies up into the air and lands face down on the road. Her foot slams down on the brake, she jumps out.
The car door opens, and a woman of about forty, dressed in jeans vomits on the side of the road. And in that split second, Anna recognizes “her.” She can barely breathe.
Twelve years ago, when she got out of the hospital, even though she had met her only briefly on just a couple of occasions, she spent every spare moment trying to trace her again. Anna was young, naïve, and desperate back then, with no one to help. She had hit a brick wall.
She prayed karma really did exist and was coming to her for what "she" did to them.
And now, "she" is here, right in front of her. Ruining yet another life. Ironic. She was good at playing the victim. She will never let go of her again. She is not that same terrified young girl now. She will try and help the guy from the moped. Looks to be about mid-thirties, her age.
The woman has no clue who she is, or what she did to her all. Of course, Anna looks different now. It has been thirteen years. She has darker hair and much heavier. People like her never noticed the insignificant around them. Until it all comes back with a vengeance.
Anna is smarter now. Wiser. She will be able to keep tabs on her through the local newspaper and the accident reports and can identify herself later as a witness to the police. For now, she has learned to play it smart. From her therapist. Stand back from her thoughts and evaluate a situation calmly and logically to make the best decision. So there are NO mistakes.
Anna lives a solitary life and a preoccupation with order and routine and lives with her cat, Albert. She works for Royal Mail and has for five years. She organizes and bags it, and delivers it to the residents of the Clifton housing estate, on the outskirts of Nottingham. Her job keeps her on track. To escape the dark days. The places she does not want to return to.
She decides looking back, that every single minute of the last thirteen years has been perfectly aligned to this moment. To bring "her" back to her. She keeps up with the accident in the Nottingham Post. She knows HER real name.
The woman’s name is Carla Bevin, but she is now going by Amanda. She decides the best thing to do is keep in touch with the motorbike victim, Liam Bradbury, currently in the hospital. The nurses tell her he lives with his gran Ivy which is old. She thinks he is a bit old to be residing with a relative.
Joan Peat (love her) is Anna neighbor, (seventies) with a care assistant, Linda. Her husband Arthur had died with cancer. She also has a useless daughter Janet Mae. Joan watches Anna.
After all, Joan she had been their neighbor for thirty years. She knows what goes on in the house next door. Even long ago.
The Clarkes. Monica and Jack with little girl Anna. Monica had a penchant for alcohol and men. She was pregnant a year later with Daniel. Jack thought the child was not his and left. Six months later he was dead. That was when Anna starting visiting Joan.
The author keeps you hooked with intriguing suspense with an impending darkness lurking. What really went down thirteen years ago? What did Carla/Amanda do and what happened to her brother Daniel and the mom? Why is Anna so obsessed with revenge? What is Liam's story?
We jump to Carla Bevin (HER) who had worked at the Cumber Meadows group of schools as a counselor and psychotherapy. She was fascinated with kids which seemed to be bullied and had a rough time. Daniel refused to say a work to give any visual clues. She was his counselor and therapist.
His sister Anna was fifteen. Daniel and Anna were both very bright academically and Anna was selected for the school’s prestigious gifted pupil program. The mother had refused due to her needing to be at home.
Daniel only said, "He’s always watching me. He knows what I’m thinking. He knows about every single thing I do."
Anna worms her way into Liam’s life and Grans. However, she has no clue what this accident has done to Liam’s mind and his troubled past.
From alternating POV from thirteen years ago to the present, we hear from Anna and Carla and Joan. A fearful Anna, which seems to be spiraling out of control with her obsession, and worried about the people getting their mail late and losing her job. (stolen mail).
In between, she is putting herself in the middle of Ivy, Liam, and Amanda. She cares for Liam. She also discovers Carla/Amanda works at a nursery and loves kids. She devises a devious plan to get her bloody revenge.
Anna is coming unhinged, worrying about Amanda trying to steal her happiness with Liam and she has to protect him. She had turned a blind eye once before in her life with disastrous consequences. Not again.
However, who is really the most dangerous here? Anna, Liam, or Carla (Amanda), or is it someone else? Who is out to get whom? Liam and Anna may have more in common than they know. Nothing is as it appears. .
Their stories converge in a shocking conclusion, that will leave readers eager to share and discuss SAFE WITH ME.(ideal for book clubs and discussions). Plus it will raise your blood pressure, and increase your heart rate.
Wow, the author covers highly charged topics from mental health, abuse, and others with sensitivity, vivid descriptions, and fully developed characters. Anna was one wild character like a time bomb not knowing when she would implode. She was disturbing, cold, chilling, paranoid, detached and delusional.
The perfect unreliable narrator. Unpredictable from beginning to end. I will have to say my favorite character was Joan. (Love the surprise little evil twist) I was applauding. Something about a great neighbor who does not "miss a thing". The twist with Liam and Gran was cleverly crafted. Each person experienced tragedy, with the opportunity to help someone crossing their path.
It is very hard to believe this is a debut! If this is a debut, can you even imagine what is to come?? For fans of Jennifer Hillier, Heather Gudenkauf, Chevy Stevens, Ruth Rendell, BA Paris, Fiona Barton, Kathryn Croft, Mary Kubica, and Clare Mackintosh (some of my favorites)!
Yes, I totally agree with the author. An outstanding cover, Bookouture! These guys sure know how to crank out the talent!
“Your life takes a turn and, suddenly, everything changes and it just can’t be put back together again the same way as it was before.“
Dark, and compelling and devoured it in one sitting. Congrats on a heart-stopping, gripping, hit debut! (saving another star for the second book)
Would encourage readers to view the author’s journey. An inspiring story, returning to university at age forty and the beginning of the story we have today. "You had me at Prologue." Cannot wait for book two. CLOSER TO YOUcoming, April 2017! An author to follow.
A special thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
My writing journey . .
After years of trying to get published and never getting further than the slush pile, I went back to university at the age of 40 where I studied for an English & Creative Writing degree followed by an MA in Creative Writing.
Although I also worked full-time during the five years I studied at university, the courses gave me the time and space to try different writing and increased my confidence and belief in my writing. Before I graduated from my MA, I had secured representation with my agent, Clare Wallace, at the Darley Anderson Literacy, TV and Film Agency and had my first book deal.
My first adult psychological thriller for Bookouture is called ‘Safe with Me’ and it actually started life as my dissertation on my English & Creative Writing degree.
The creepy voice of Anna came to me strong and insistent . . . she wanted to be written, she wouldn’t go away. Please take a look at my ‘Books’ page for the full blurb.
I live in Nottingham with my husband, Mac. Between us we have three grown-up kids; my daughter, Francesca and Mac’s sons Nathan and Jake.
I also write multi-award winning YA fiction under the name Kim Slater. Read More