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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Book Review: Don't Let Me In by Phil Kurthausen

A former TV presenter, Sarah Kelly became agoraphobic after an attack in her own home. Creating a new career as the presenter of a true crime podcast, she has built quite a following as she looks into the murder conviction of a young man she believes is innocent.

Unfortunately, because the accused is a Muslim, hate trolls have come out in force. For the most part, Sarah takes the online invective with the ‘all attention is good’ attitude, but when one troll threatens her son, the fear comes up to swamp her again, and her husband, Henry, just doesn’t understand why she won’t give up her crusade.

The victim’s brother, Mohammed, is a close friend and supporter of Sarah, and her producer Cathy has her back too. Even these friends might not be able to protect her as she gets closer and closer to revealing the true killer’s identity, though.

The issues of online trolling (particularly of female journalists) and Islamophobia in the UK, both in 2005 when the murder occurred and today, are given some very close inspection through the lens of Sarah’s investigation and experiences. There is a great deal of thought put into examining these issues and their solutions, which was why I found the final reveal of the real murderer to be so massively disappointing.

I realised where the clues were pointing about halfway through the book and thought ‘oh no, please tell me this isn’t going there’... and then I was disappointed. I’m going to spoiler slightly by saying it was an Islamic honour killing, which was just so opposed to the sympathetic treatment the Muslim characters received through the book I felt thoroughly let down.

Does the author not understand that having this be the answer to the puzzle basically means the beliefs of the Islamophobes the heroine spent the entire book fighting against were VALIDATED? There were plenty of good candidates for the villain without playing right back into the trope the book spent the whole time trying to shoot down. And Sarah’s behaviour at the very end just made me thoroughly dislike a character I’d been rooting for all along.

While most of the book was well written and I found myself thoroughly engaged by the podcasts and the investigation, and sympathetic to Sarah’s issues, the end made me thoroughly lose my temper as all the author’s conscious and unconscious prejudices apparently boiled over. Two stars for thoroughly annoying me.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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