Reading J. P. Pomare’s debut novel, Call Me Evie, is a discombobulating experience of the highest caliber. While not entirely successful, the writing here is first-rate and readers will be anxious to see more from this new author.
Like many books in the psychological suspense sub-genre, Call Me Evie relies on an unreliable narrator and a jumbled timeline to elevate the tension. Many books drop readers into the middle of the action, but Pomare does so in the bravest of ways. Readers are left with really no signposts to cling to as they flounder around to grab hold of this tricky narrative thread. This is further complicated by the flashback sections: Since readers have no idea what the ultimate goal is, it is impossible to know what details are of importance in those glimpses of the past.
So, what do readers know? Kate (now going by the name of Evie) and her Uncle Jim have fled Melbourne Australia under an undisclosed cloud of suspicion. Jim keeps feeding “Evie” pills, cuts off her hair, and locks her a bedroom each night. From the past, we garner that Kate’s legs were horribly disfigured by boiling bath water and that her self-confidence has been affected because of it. And yet, she is able to make a few friends on the swim team and has at least one boy, Thom, interested in her on a romantic level.
This is about all readers know for a good portion of the novel. This is intriguing and certainly makes putting the book down virtually impossible, but it can also be frustrating at times. Because the chapters are short and the reading has a nice ease, it remains an enjoyable experience overall.
Both Kate and Jim are engaging characters and their interactions provide some vital clues to help readers begin to piece together this puzzle. The various co-stars who enter their orbit are quirky and each serves a role in helping readers to navigate towards the truth.
There is no doubt that the final reveal is satisfying, albeit maybe not as shocking and unexpected as the early section of the book seems to imply. The biggest misstep in Call Me Evie is that in the final few chapters, for absolutely no reason, a novel that had previously been told solely from Kate’s point-of-view (in both past and present) suddenly shifts to allow for two additional points-of-view. In both cases, the revelations in those sections could have been made clear while remaining in Kate’s perspective. This does not spoil the impact of the revelations, but it is a jarring error that an editor really should have addressed.
Ultimately, fans of psychological suspense will enjoy their time with Call Me Evie. J. P. Pomare is a talented writer and readers will want to see what he does next, but he deserves better editorial guidance.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.