I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson: Stunning twists and turns - book review -
Everyone hates a nosy neighbour… but would you be prepared to kill to keep your secrets hidden?
Dorothy Koomson, whose dark and wickedly clever novels have earned her the sobriquet Queen of the Big Reveal, works her special magic on this intriguing and addictive slice of suburban noir which leaves readers guessing right through to the very last page.
Packed with Koomson’s trademark stunning twists and turns, I Know What You’ve Done plunges us into the shadowy lives and loves of the assorted residents of Acacia Villas in a well-heeled corner of Brighton.
It’s a place where people tend to mind their own business, meet up mainly for neighbourhood watch meetings, and say hello politely like ships passing in the night… until the day one of the residents, who was convinced that a neighbour was trying to kill her, is attacked and left for dead.
Most of the people with a home in the smart row of Acacia Villas are well-spoken and ‘well-to-do’ but Priscilla Calvert, the fifty-something woman who lives at number 21, is in a different league with her bespoke designer clothes and pristine hair and make-up.
Rae Whickman, a freelance editor, who lives at number 11 and is married to property solicitor Clark, usually only sees Priscilla at neighbourhood meetings or to deliver goods sent to their house by mistake.
So when Priscilla turns up on her doorstep, with her immaculate clothes dishevelled, her make-up smudged and her dewy skin covered in sweat, Rae is immediately alarmed. But then Priscilla gasps, ‘I know what you’ve done… I know what all of you have done,’ and thrusts a battered and bulging notebook at Rae.
Realising that Priscilla has been attacked, Rae calls for an ambulance but by the time paramedics arrive, Priscilla is close to death and the police are called in.
When she realises the notebook is a diary detailing all the comings and goings of everyone in the street, Rae knows she should hand it over to the police but instead she keeps it to herself to read because it ‘feels like something that needs to be kept secret for now.’
While some entries are innocuous – arguments about bins and the whereabouts of a missing cat – it soon becomes clear that there is more to the neighbours in Acacia Villas than meets the eye.
Everyone has secrets, and as Priscilla battles for her life in hospital, Rae realises that the diary could be the key to finding the attacker.
Koomson delivers a multi-layered mind maze of festering secrets, moral dilemmas and simmering tensions as the truth and lies of Acacia Villas spill over into an explosion of shocking revelations, emotional outpourings and a ticking time-bomb mystery.
With a narrative that alternates between each superbly portrayed character, the different households, and events both past and present, readers are given a drip feed of uncomfortable truths which expose the fault lines behind the row of closed doors.
Guilt, fear, deception, jealousy, infidelity and violence all raise their ugly heads in this wealthy but exceedingly secretive suburb where everyone has something to hide, and menace would seem to be ‘fizzing in the air.’
So take a deep breath, prepare for a thrill ride and you’ll be racing to the end for a final reveal that ensures the Queen of the Big Reveal won’t be losing her crown any time soon!
(Headline Review, hardback, £12.99)