Book Review: The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and The Ice Twins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia's book is based. She has now become Olivia's unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? 

Published May 4th 2017 by Quercus (UK)  

Believe me, I'm the biggest wimp going where anything insect like is concerned. I'm the person running around screaming at a picnic when anything with wings comes near me. I have shut the door on the living room and not gone in for two days when I've had an eight legged guest, until my Dad could come round and check for me. So it surprised me how attracted I was to this book when I first caught sight of it floating about social media. It has massive, BIG bugs on it! But, they are gorgeous  and mysterious looking bugs. I thought this book looked stunning, and I wanted to find out more. 

Luckily then for me, that bugs isn't really what this book is about. At all. I mean they do feature, but not in a creepy crawly way. The bug, or actually Dung Beetle (which I now have quite a fondness for...at a distance) is more the vehicle to connect the two main character's in this book and provides a fascinating metaphor for this story of ambition, betrayal and revenge.  

The book is told from both Olivia and Vivian's perspectives in alternating chapters, a style which works so well in this book as you could feel the distinct tone between the two character's voices. While the reader hears both women's insecurities, desperation and deceptions, Vivian was without doubt the most intense and creepy protagonist, with her sections being told in an almost blunt, detached first person narrative. Olivia's chapters come in a third person narrative and the feeling is more panicked, frenzied and fearful. Yet for most of this book I didn't know who to trust at all. 

The Night Visitor is a complex story of long held resentments and a tense and elaborate revenge. There are so many fascinating threads running throughout - of professional misogyny - both historical and current, ambition and betrayal. Both Olivia and Vivian are experts in their fields of academia, both have struggled with their identity and credibility in a male dominated environment. However, when you are top of your field, reputation is everything, and one of theirs is at risk of crashing down around them. And one of them needs to learn not to underestimate those they think below them, like our friend the Dung Beetle. 

I raced through this book. When I say I couldn't put it down, I fell asleep holding it in bed (despite desperate attempts to stay awake and read just a little bit more) and immediately turned back to it when I woke up. The Night Visitor isn't gory or action packed. It's pure psychological suspense, with an unsettling, eerie atmosphere of mistrust and intrigue which completely held me captive. I'm amazed by just how much I really liked this book, and how engrossing, original and interesting I found it. The Night Visitor is up there with the very best of psychological thrillers and I strongly recommend it.


1 comment:

  1. I hate bugs too! As soon as they come back in spring, it's hell!!! But I'm intrigued by this book, and you mentioning a creepy character! I love creepy ones! Haha!

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