7 April 2012

Review: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Wendy James

  • first published in 2010 by UWA Publishing
  • 250 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-921401-46-6
  • 250 pages
  • Source: my local library
Synopsis (from author site)

Susan and Ed Middleton are perfectly content with their lives. Two kids, two cars, a solid brick bungalow in a respectable Northern beaches suburb. They’re good people, model citizens. There’s barely a ripple in the surface of their happy existence. But when Susan’s older sister, who vanished as a teenager, reappears to claim an inheritance, everything is set to change…

My take

What would you remember about her if your sister, who is ten years older than you, simply walked out one night and never came back? Would you know her if she reappeared twenty years later? Would you know if the person was an imposter? What if she didn't have any evidence of her old identity? What if she had changed her name? What questions should you ask?

And what if there was more at stake? What if you had to share your mother's estate with her?

Sure, you'd remember the impact her disappearance had. But even that would be seen from a child's point of view. Adults would shield you from the worst knowledge. And she would be dead to you.

Wendy James has taken an interesting scenario and explored it in an engaging way, taking the reader deep into the life that Susan and Ed Middleton have established. There are many variants of this scenario that readers will be familiar with: the abducted child; the mother or father who deserts the family; or daughter or son who simply leaves home. We all know someone or a family that this has happened to. Sometimes the "lost" returns, sometimes never appears again.

I guess the book isn't really crime fiction in a way, but is the prodigal sister really who she says she is, or is a crime being committed as we read? I found the suspense in the novel well done, the characters for the most part well drawn.

Wendy James is certainly an author I'll look for again. I'm not sure why I haven't come across her before, especially as she has now published 4 novels and a short story collection, and won the Ned Kelly Award for best first novel in 2006 with OUT OF THE SILENCE.

Thanks to fellow blogger Bernadette for pointing her out to me with a review of THE MISTAKE.

My rating: 4.8

Other links to explore:
About the Author

Wendy James is an Australian author of crime and psychological thrillers. She currently lives in Armidale, New South Wales with her husband and two children. 


Vicki said...

Ooooooh... this sounds like my sort of book. Going on my reading list. Thanks for the review.

kathy d. said...

If only my library carried her books, I'd reserve this one and The Mistake right now.

Both will go onto my hypothetical TBR mountain.

Vicki said...

Yes, after discovering I couldn't get it on Kindle, I've had to consign it to the hypothetical TBR mountain, too. :(

Maxine Clarke said...

I have tried to get Wendy James books in the UK without success (including Kindle). However, a kind friend sent me her copy of The Mistake ;-)so I am looking forward to trying it.

Irene said...

This sounds a little more than creepy. But good.

Cathryn Grant said...

This sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for the review.

I recently discovered Wendy James when I picked up a copy of The Mistake while visiting Australia. I loved The Mistake and I'm disappointed I haven't been able to locate her books in the US, but I'll keep trying!


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