Books & Literature

Book Review: A Voice in the Night, by Sarah Hawthorn

THRILLER: An addictive thriller of twists and turns, a gripping and emotionally resonant debut from a striking new voice.

A pacey page-turner

In 2001, Lucie is a young, emerging lawyer living in New York. She begins a passionate affair with a married man, Martin, who she last sees on September 11th as he heads to an appointment at the World Trade Center.

Twenty years later, she is a successful lawyer working in London, recently separated from her husband of 10 years, and doing some casual dating. Her life seems fine until she starts receiving messages from a man claiming to be Martin, who she assumed had died in the 9/11 attacks.

A Voice in the Night is the debut novel by Sarah Hawthorn, who has lived around the world, but now calls country NSW home.

Hawthorn has come up with a solid plot device for a psychological thriller. Is this man really Martin? If he is, then why did he allow everyone to think he had died? If it’s not Martin, then who is it, and why are they doing this? There is no doubt this is a page-turner, with plenty of satisfying twists. As a thriller, it does what it says on the can.

The writing itself leaves a bit to be desired. Lucie is a thin character whose voice never seems clear. Other characters are interesting, but fairly one-dimensional. Most of the dialogue is awkward and never really rings true. And Hawthorn gives a lot of unnecessary detail that doesn’t add anything: we are regaled with Lucie’s choices of clothing, food, and décor. Other characters are described too much in terms of their looks and not much else. It reads more like the description of a film than like an actual novel.

A Voice in the Night contains some excellent plotting and pacing, up until the climax which is unbelievable and a tad tortuous. A stronger editing hand may have saved it from some of these blunders.

Despite its issues, this is still an enjoyable, pacey thriller which will keep you guessing—a great read for the upcoming summer holidays. One senses that Hawthorn could produce even better work than this, so she is certainly a writer to watch.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Distributed by: NewSouth Books
Released: July 2021
RRP: $29.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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