Lucy Atkins quotes from Milton before this creepy novel begins, “But what will not ambition and revenge descend to?” We certainly find out as we read the alternate chapters from Vivian and Olivia, locked in an unlikely partnership as they write a book about the Victorian age diary of Annabel Burley, one of the very first women to study medicine in England. Olivia is well known from her television appearances as she promotes her field of academic endeavour. She is quite beautiful. On the other hand,Vivian is a chunky looking 60-year old, housekeeper for Lady Burley in her manor, Ileford, though Burley herself is being cared for in a nursing home, as she is dying of cancer. All the legwork is undertaken by Vivian, while Olivia writes, glowingly, and winningly, about Annabel. The book launch is close, and it is already being hailed as a coming best seller. But matters suddenly go shockingly awry. Olivia fears that everything she’d believed in “her marriage, the diary, the beautiful, powerful book she’d written was fake.” If this were true, how could she and her career survive? Could she confront Vivian, and if she did, what on earth could she say? Surely Vivian was not still blaming her for the death of her beloved dog, Bertie? Each chapter reveals another tiny thread which would combine to make a startling final chapter, as Olivia states to the authorities, “I hardly knew Vivian Tester.” She was right there, she had underestimated her constantly, in every way possible, but would she now pay the ultimate price?
Edge of the seat reading. Lucy Atkins is a fine writer, with a complicated tale to spin, and readers will be caught in her web from first page to last.
THE NIGHT VISITOR by LUCY ATKINS
PUBLISHED by QUERCUS for a recommended $32.99