Reviewed by Emma Crowley
In her heart, Grace knows the perfect, reliable, good-looking Gavin isn't right for her. Then she meets Danny. Unpredictable and spontaneous, he turns her world upside down. All of a sudden, Grace is seeing life differently and doing things she never thought she'd do.
But tragedy strikes when Danny dies in a motorbike accident, shattering Grace's world. As she struggles to come to terms with her loss, she becomes more and more convinced that she's being followed - sighting a motorbike exactly like Danny's everywhere she goes. And she starts to wonder if Danny's death was really an accident.
When she finally voices her suspicions to her family and the police, though, no one seems willing to believe her.
Meanwhile Grace feels ever more under threat as sinister things begin happening to her. What was Danny hiding from her? And what kind of danger is she in now?
Someone New is the eighth novel from Zoe Miller, an author who consistently writes excellent books that always leave you guessing right until the very end. I've read everything she has written and I would compare her books to that of a more harder, edgier Melissa Hill. Melissa used to have the twist at the end of her books but seems to have abandoned this so I am glad there is still an Irish author who keeps you on your toes and pulls the wool over your eyes right until the last page. Last years release from Zoe was A Question of Betrayal and it was absolutely stunning and one of the best books the author has written. Reading the blurb for this new release it sounded just as good if not better. I am pleased to say this book reaffirmed for me what a superb author Zoe Miller really is. I feel she is vastly underrated and doesn't get the amount of recognition she deserves. Her books should be read by a wide audience as she has the knack of sucking you in early on where you become so invested in the outcome for all the characters and are desperately wondering just how will everything resolve itself. With a new book from Zoe Miller you know there will be a good, solid storyline with believable characters coupled with an air of mystery and suspense that can leave you with a knot in your stomach as you fear for what may happen. Also a dash of romance is thrown in but its not the main focus of Zoe's books, so in that respect I think she really does add a different element to women's fiction.
Someone New opens with Grace Bailey arriving home from Dublin city centre where she works in an insurance company. She lives in a small village Rathbrook ideal for people on the commuter belt. Immediately there is a sinister, foreboding feeling to this book as Grace collects her post and enters her apartment. Opening a parcel out slips cut up photos which when pieced together form a picture of her boyfriend Danny. If that's not scary enough the fact is Danny is dead and has been for several months. Just who is doing this to Grace and why? 'It had been sent to rattle her and it worked, because it deepened her unease, and the evening imploded around her as all the joy and the heartache of the last few months came rushing back'. Just what has led Grace to this point and why would someone be inspired by such malice to want to terrorise somebody. Somebody who has been through recent heartache.
We are taken back to five months earlier when Grace first met Danny just before Christmas and her life was changed forever. The author does a fantastic job of setting the scene and building the story up piece by piece. A number of other story lines run concurrently with the main plot and at times I did think one of them was really not needed but again Zoe Miller turned everything on its head. By the end I understood every person was there for a reason they all had something to add and a part to play even if I felt they were minor at the time. I never knew quite what to make of certain characters and as this book proved initial appearances can prove very deceiving.
Grace is at a turning point in her life. She is none to happy with her job but there's nothing she can do about that, she is grateful to have a job as she just got into the company before the recession hit. As for her personal life she has just broken up with Gavin after a long term relationship. An unfortunate incident of getting stuck in a lift for a while gave her the opportunity to mull over things and she decides enough is enough she is not content with Gavin and needs a change. Things have been stale for a while and she needs to be the bigger person and put the relationship to bed. One last meet up for a drink before Christmas doesn't smooth things out that much when in steps Danny McBride and Grace knows this is the man she was destined to be with. 'It was something that began thrumming in her heart when he stopped at the table, a recognition, a familiarity, as though it was part of a grand orchestrated plan that he arrive just then, and she had been waiting for him to come along and infuse her with a new kind of vitality'. What beautiful writing that sums up the attraction between Danny and Grace. I felt every bit of it, the cynic in me disappeared that a couple could meet, fall in love and move in with each other so quickly because this couple felt real, true and as if they should have always been together. Some may think Danny was too good to be true but he just seemed to have the most positive outlook on life. He treated Grace well, looked after her and wanted her to go out and achieve everything she wanted to do in her life. He even encouraged her to pick up a project she had long put aside. 'I want to help Grace Bailey have a wonderful year and to work out what she really wants in life rather than drifting through it'. So when Danny dies in a motorbike accident I was equally as bereft as Grace I felt as if I had lost a friend. Things begin to take an even more malevolent turn as Grace is trying to wade her way through the grief.
Grace is attempting to move forward which is very hard to do considering the man she presumed she would be spending the rest of her life is gone. He has left a gaping hole in her life, one which Grace's sister Lucia is attempting to fill along with her friends Karen and Suz. But Grace can't let go when there are questions left unanswered.'Danny had a habit of healthy side stepping questions he didn't want to answer. It was all part of the package, the intriguing, sparkling, yet sometimes childlike Danny McBride she had come to know in a few short weeks'. When strange and frightening things begin to happen Grace begins to wonder were things not as rosy as they had seemed and if she doesn't uncover the truth she will never be at peace.
Detective Matt Slattery appears at this stage but doesn't really take Grace's concerns that seriously. But should he be looking into things a bit deeper. Matt was a character who I felt was surplus to the storyline I understand he was there to help Grace but his own personal storyline didn't have me gripped even though I understood the point the author was trying to make regarding his situation and his personal life. But I found I read Matt's chapters as quick as possible as they weren't really holding my interest. Another character who brought a different slant to the story was Lucia but I much preferred her story. She was a person who always had to be in control of everything and lived a supposedly ideal life but it just goes to show that the front we present may not always exactly what is going on behind closed doors. Her story developed well over the course of the book and I liked how it was wrapped up.
The more I read the more I became invested in the outcome for Grace. She was a character who was not strong throughout but showed her vulnerable side too. I like to see that in a book that an author is not afraid to have a character who needs a bit of hep and support. Grace was right to persist though that things with Danny weren't all they had seemed and that maybe his accident might not have been an accident after all. There were numerous twists and turns I hadn't seen coming. The smug part of me thought at one stage I so have guessed who it is and why but I was totally and utterly wrong. There were many strands to tie up and plot lines to justify but the author did a fantastic job and like I have said you never knew how everything would come to a conclusion but it was epic. Even if I did think oh really I should have guessed what was happening. But I suppose that only highlights that Zoe Miller is adept at spinning beautifully crafted tale of suspicion, intrigue and distrust. Balanced alongside the more serious and frightening aspect of the story was Lucia's problems and I felt this slotted in well with everything else that was going on.
Zoe Miller has once again produced another stunner of a book that you will find hard to put down. If you are new to Zoe's books you will enjoy this just as much as I did but should also read her back catalogue to understand just what makes her books so good. I'm only sorry I read Someone New so quick as now I have the long wait for book number nine.
Many thanks to Hachette Books Ireland for our copy of Someone New to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.