The Rumour by Lesley Kara – review

Published by Bantam Press

Publication date – 27 December 2018

Source – review copy

A casual comment.

There’s a killer among us.

That’s all it takes.

She stabbed little Robbie Harris.

To change a life –

She’s living under a new name.

For ever.

She’s reformed. So they say . . .

Joanna is going to regret the day she ever said a word.

Read more on the Penguin website.

Joanna, recently returned home, would do anything for her son. So when she helps spread a little bit of school ground gossip, she thinks of it as a way to ingratiate herself with the other mums. Little does she realise that to someone, the gossip that a woman who killed a child whilst she was herself a child lives in town, will strike a little too close to the truth.

As adults it’s often hard to make new friends. If we are in a new social environment we can  often find ourselves standing around, wracking our brains to come up with small talk. Children seem to be the opposite. They have an innate skill of making friends within about 3 minutes of arriving at a new place. The school playground can be a minefield for a parent. So it is the perfect setting for the opening of this debut novel from Lesley Kara. The compulsion to join in, to at least attempt to make an effort for your child’s sake more than anything, is one that will be familiar to many.

This is not a book that is full of high speed chases, gruesome murders and high octane events. It is one in which the tension builds slowly.  There was a time when I was reading when I wondered if anything was ‘going to happen’. Then I realised it already was. I was enjoying reading the story progress. It was paced well. It was good to see Joanna’s character develop and her relationship with Michael was a refreshing change. There’s a sense of malice and a frisson of unease that increases as the story progresses. There are suspects and incidents that creep into the story, making the reader suspect everyone, including themselves at some point.

The writing style is engaging. There’s a lightness of touch that draws the reader in without really trying.  The short chapters easily allow the ‘just one more’ rule to be broken, the very definition of a page turner. The sense of malice is there from the first mention of the rumour. The tension grows slowly with each page, with the ‘action’ building to a peak as the final few chapters appear.

This is a book where women dominate. The male characters are secondary in many respects, the few that there are almost incidental to the story, foils as it were. I had guessed who was at the heart of the rumour from about half way through the story. This isn’t to say it was easy to spot, it’s just my suspicious nature filters through things at a rapid pace. So whilst I knew who it was, the journey getting to the reveal was the key thing. Seeing the story unfold and wondering how it would all wrap up was what kept me reading.

The Rumour is an enjoyable, enthralling tale that pulls the reader in and drags them along until the very last page. Word of it will spread like wildfire and it will be one on everyone’s lips.

Don’t just take my word for it, read it for yourself. Highly recommended.

About the author

Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast. The Rumour is her first novel.

This was book four in the #20BooksofSummer challenge.

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