Dear Amy is that rare thing; a British based novel with a more americanised style. The author Helen Callaghan writes like the Slaughter’s and Rose’s of the world and that happens to be a style I particularly like.
Dear Amy however is based in Cambridge, England. It focuses on the character Margot Lewis a classics teacher at a private school in Cambridge. Going through a divorce Margot is finding it hard to cope with her rising anxiety levels, as well as her teaching she also runs a small advice column in the local newspaper called ‘Dear Amy’. Around the time that a local teenager Katie, a previous student of Margot’s goes missing, Margot herself begins receiving letters to her column in a childish handwriting and signed ‘Bethany Avery’. The problem is that Bethan went missing back in 1998 so there’s no way she could be writing these letters now.
At first I found the plot a little unrealistic, I mean let’s face it if you’re a kidnap victim how exactly are you getting pen, paper and envelope and in particular stamps? Who is posting the letters for you? It just can’t be right? However it never crossed my mind that there may be another explanation and that is where the skill of this author really lies. She lulls you into a false sense of security where you believe you know what’s going on, only to find out that in fact you’d got it all wrong.
Dear Amy is written in the particularly nourishing style of English crime with all the minutiae of day to day life; drinking tea, boiling the kettle, cleaning teeth, getting keys from bag, the insignificant details such as shopping for a fellow teachers birthday present or storming round to your ex husband’s new girlfriend’s house to call her all manner of names. But all this is done with the skill of an American thriller. The answer is hiding in plain sight.
A solid 5* it’s really hard to believe that Dear Amy is a debut novel from this author and I look forward to seeing more from her.