The premise behind 29 Seconds is the presentation of a moral conundrum to someone stuck between a rock and a hard place. You have the chance to get out of it - but only by doing something deeply unethical. Something which is way over-the-top over-reacting. The catch? No catch. You’ll never be found out. No consequences. Only conscience.
Pushed to the limits by a sexually harassing professor with total power over her career and her future, historian Dr. Sarah Haywood is at the end of her rope when a good deed done without expectation of reward puts a powerful man in her debt. His offer? A name. All she has to do is say a name and that person will disappear, forever.
In this age of #MeToo, this is a sobering look at what women have been facing, are still facing, the world over, day in and day out. Protected by an old boys’ network, men in positions of power put women like Sarah - by no means a doormat - through awful situations like this and leave them pushed into corners from which the only ways out are unpalatable at best.
I’d probably have made that 29-second phone call a lot earlier than Sarah did, is all I’m saying.
Things don’t pan out the way Sarah expects from there on, however, and the situation actually devolves further. I won’t spoil it, but I genuinely wondered how and even if it could possibly resolve well for her, but Sarah is nothing if not smart and set up revenge on her own terms which was utterly and totally brilliant.
The writing throughout the book is flawless, Sarah is a fantastic and relatable protagonist, and though the harassment she endures is painful to read (and must be trigger warned for) the end of the book is just deeply and viscerally satisfying in the level of poetic justice which is finally achieved.
Five stars for a timely, superbly written story I know I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.
29 Seconds is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.