Blog Tour and Book Review: Limelight by Graham Hurley
Life is dangerous. No one survives it. Enora Andressen makes a series of mind-blowing discoveries when her friend disappears.
Actress Enora Andressen is catching up with her ex-neighbour, Evelyn Warlock, who's recently retired to the comely East Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. The peace, the friendship of strangers and the town’s prestigious literary festival . . . Evelyn loves them all.
Until the September evening when her French neighbour, Christianne Beaucarne, disappears. Enora has met this woman. The two of them have bonded. But what Enora discovers over the anguished months to come will put sleepy Budleigh Salterton on the front page of every newspaper in the land.
This is a different sort of crime thriller to the norm… because at the end of it, I was left wondering if there had actually been a crime.
Enora Andressen, half-French actress, is the narrator of this tale. Thwarted in an attempt to visit Prague to scatter a loved one’s ashes, Enora instead accepts an invitation to visit a friend living in Budleigh Salterton, a quiet coastal village in Devon. There, she meets Christianne, her friend’s neighbour, a Frenchwoman with a fascinating past, and the two become instant friends over the course of a weekend. It’s a couple of days later when Enora receives the shocking news that Christianne is missing, and that she was suffering from motor neurone disease (MND), and is thought to have taken her own life in a bid to avoid the disease’s painful degeneration.
The police, however, are wondering otherwise. To her own astonishment, Enora finds herself questioned as a suspect, accused of conspiring to murder a woman she liked but barely knew. And even her certain knowledge of her own innocence might not be enough to keep her out of jail.
The topic of euthanasia is heavily explored here, as well as the political backdrop in the UK. Anger over the decision to spend enormous amounts of police resources pursuing a case which was, at worst, an assisted suicide, comes into play in a small, tight-knit community. Realistically, I’m not sure I’d actually call it a thriller, because there was never really all that much at stake. Certainly Enora was never in any physical danger, and it was clear that her lawyers were confident no legal case against her would stick. It’s more of a women’s fiction with a few unusual twists and turns.
For the most part I enjoyed it, but there were a few moments when Enora’s inner monologue made her come across as privileged and spoilt - her unkind thoughts about a fat policewoman were something of a slap in the face which made me really not like her. I also really didn’t understand the subplot with her son going to work for a guy selling doomsday superyachts to the mega-rich, and thought it distracted from the main story. The two threads never tied back together at all, which meant all those scenes breach a major rule of storytelling - if a scene doesn’t advance the plot, it doesn’t belong in the story. Maybe it’ll come to something in a later book in the series, but in and of itself that creates a problem… if you need to have read an earlier book to understand a plot point. Although this is the fourth book in the Enora Andressen series, and there were references to earlier happenings, the plot in this one did stand alone quite nicely if you haven’t read any others.
Overall, I’ll give this four stars; the author does a nice job with setting the scene and getting the feel of the town, and introducing an intriguing cast of characters, but I think as a thriller it’s a little underdone and takes a few too many unnecessary diversions from the main plotline.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources.
Author Bio –
Graham Hurley is an award-winning TV documentary maker who now writes full time. His Faraday and Winter series won two Theakstons shortlist nominations and was successfully adapted for French TV. He has since written a quartet of novels featuring D/S Jimmy Suttle, and three WW2 novels, the first of which – Finisterre – was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. The first three titles in the Enora Andressen series, Curtain Call, Sight Unseen and Off Script, are also available from Severn House. After thirty years in Portsmouth, Graham now lives in East Devon with his wife, Lin.
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