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  • Caitlyn Lynch

Blog Tour and Book Review: Simon Says by Jo Wesley

The most horrifying thing about Simon is that if you’re a woman, you’ve met a Simon. He was That Guy who first made an inappropriately sexual comment to you, when you were 14 or 12 or maybe even as young as 9. He might have been a sports coach, a teacher, a relative, your older sister’s boyfriend (as was the Simon in this book), or just some random dude on the bus. You might have been lucky to get away with nothing more than an icky feeling after being perved on by an older guy inappropriately interested in pubescent girls.

Cindy wasn’t that lucky.

Told in chapters alternating between the present day and a time thirteen years earlier, when Cinty was 14, the story leads us through Cindy’s present troubles and back through what happened to her back then, and as the book progresses it becomes very obvious that one thing led directly to another. Cindy never really had a chance, with a mother who neglected and even abused her and a predator like Simon waiting in the shadows for his chance to strike. It’s uncomfortable and at times tragic reading, and it’s so realistic it could be the biography of thousands of young women in the UK today. Pleasingly, it does end on a positive note, with a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for Cindy and the chance of a better life if she wants it, but she goes through a lot of dark places before she arrives there.

This is a gritty domestic noir thriller set on Britain’s poverty-stricken council estates, and readers should be aware there are a lot of potentially distressing triggers including parental abuse of a child, sexual abuse of a child, forcible drugging and date-raping and more. None of it is gratuitous and Simon is treated with the contempt he and his ilk deserve, but it’s not easy reading. Cindy’s story is compelling, and you can’t help but feel sympathy for her as she struggles to get her life on any kind of decent track.

Five stars for a gritty, realistic read with a pleasantly surprising uplift at the very end.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via Rachel’s Random Resources.

Author Bio –

SIMON SAYS isn’t my first thriller. Several unpublished novels went before it, but there was something about this story that made me come back to it time-and-time again. Although it was written in 2015, recently a few author friends encouraged me to publish it as they remembered reading it years before.

I used to work in an office where the wider team comprised people working with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and general community safety. I wrote SIMON SAYS during this period and my team provided information and advice. Also, the Red Watch team at the local fire station read my first chapter during their tea break and advised on a couple of points to make it more accurate (I thought it would be one person, not the whole team reading it!).

Currently, I am completing a novel in another genre but I really enjoy writing thrillers, so I am planning my next one.

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