A fast-paced and engaging thriller that is very difficult to put down.
When I Was Ten has been described as chilling, dark, and a page-turner, and it well and truly fits all of these descriptors and more. This is a fast-paced, engaging thriller, with characters that come to life in a heart-wrenching story of childhood trauma that makes this book very difficult to put down.
When Shannon and Sara Carter were children, their parents were brutally murdered in an event that prompted a media frenzy. Now the girls are all grown up, and Sara, nicknamed the Angel of Death by the media, is living a quiet life with a new identity. Quiet, that is, until a documentary team track down Sara’s sister Shannon, who breaks twenty-one years of silence to tell her story. With her testimony sparking national headlines, journalist Brinley Booth, who happens to be a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is sent to cover the news story. The resulting chain of events force all three women to confront what really happened on the night of the murders.
The narrative jumps between Catherine (aka Sara Carter), written in third person past tense, and Brinley, written in first person present tense. The change in perspective between characters, in addition to the different thought processes of the two characters, make it easy to keep track of whose eyes the story is being viewed through. The book also goes back in time to relive the days leading up to the murders through the eyes of Brinley and Sara as children, with Fiona Cummins expertly changing from viewing events through the eyes of adults to seeing things from a child’s point of view.
While the story has plenty of twists and turns, not all of them are unpredictable. However, despite being able to guess some of the plot twists in advance, this book proved to be of the kind that you say to yourself, “One more chapter,” and then suddenly realise you’ve read the whole thing in one sitting.
With recommendations from respected crime authors such as Lee Child, Clare Mackintosh and JP Delaney, this reviewer adds their humble voice to theirs in urging all thriller fans to seek out When I Was Ten and Fiona Cummins’ other books.
Reviewed by Kristin Stefanoff
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: August 2020