Alice Feeney has wasted no time in establishing herself as one of the preeminent authors of psychological suspense working today. Her debut, Sometimes I Lie, already feels like a touchstone of the genre and she followed that up with the excellent I Know Who You Are. This week, she releases her third stand-alone novel, His & Hers, and it is her best work to-date.
Like all of Feeney’s novels, His & Hers is very difficult to discuss without treading into spoiler territory, so if this plot description seems vague and under-developed, know that it is a function of trying to maintain the secrets in this review and not a reflection on the novel itself. You should know that it involves a murder in the small village of Blackdown in the English countryside. This murder draws in two very different characters – the “his and hers” of the title. The female narrator is a television journalist, while the male narrator is a detective. Both of these characters know more than they are saying about this crime, the location, and the victim. Alice Feeney uses a deft hand to unspool their story, their secrets, and eventually the (their?) truth.
With novels like this, it is so important that the two point of view “voices” be distinct, realistic, and memorable. His & Hers could, should, and probably will be a textbook example of this technique. Both Anna Andrews and Jack Harper are characters that readers will become infatuated with. Notice how this does not say “characters that readers will love.” Both Anna and Jack are extremely flawed narrators, causing readers to distrust their perspective of things almost immediately. As revelations are made, reader loyalty will shift and sway like the branches of the trees on the book’s cover during a most violent storm.
Alice Feeney weaves together tropes from many of crime fiction’s most beloved sub-genres: domestic suspense, traditional mystery, and police procedurals, in particular. She somehow manages to please devotees of all of them, while crafting something that feels all together original. This novel is also a masterpiece of pacing. Almost every chapter in the first third of His & Hers ends with a shocking revelation that practically forces the reader to continue consuming this novel quickly. Then the middle section takes a step back and slowly unravels the tangled web created by the early chapters. And then finally, the last portion of the novel again propels the reader through the pages in an effort to uncover the truth. Many of the surprises will genuinely leave readers dumbfounded, while delighting them in how well this author was able subverted their divulgence until she felt the timing was perfect for maximum impact.
Fans of psychological suspense love nothing more than characters who lie. By pitting man against woman, Alice Feeney once again proves that she has her finger on the pulse of society and will keep readers turning pages long into the night. His & Hers is the perfect book to distract in these stressful times and the wait for the next Alice Feeney novel is going to seem interminable.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.