I was intrigued by the premise of T.R. Richmond's new book, What She Left.
Alice Salmon's sudden death shocks those who knew and loved her. She couldn't possibly have jumped from that bridge, could she? She must have been pushed, right? Or maybe it was just an absolutely horrific accident?
One of Alice's former professors, Jeremy Cooke, decides to piece together Alice's life, using her diaries, social media posts, texts, playlists and anecdotes from those closest to her. But really - why would he want to do this? Well, old Cookie has his own set of secrets. And those who profess to have known and loved Alice also have secrets that they prefer stay hidden.
T.R. Richmond has us suspecting each and every player as their connections and interactions with Alice are revealed through Prof. Cooke's research. We come to know Alice through other's eyes - and my perception of who she was changed with every character. Alice's own diaries reveal a confused young woman whom I didn't like very much. Old Cookie has the most to say - and he is by far the most disturbing character. His letters to a dead friend are quite disturbing as he details his past - and present - thinking and actions. Quite honestly, I didn't find any of the characters sympathetic or likeable; and therefore hard to engage with.
But with each additional piece of information revealed, my opinion changed on what really happened - and who Alice really was. Richmond employs a non linear timeline to unfold What She Left - readers will have to note the date at the top of each entry to keep things straight.
What She Left was told in a clever fashion, with a twist or two tucked in at the end. What She Left was a good debut novel, but comparisons to Gone Girl may be a tad ambitious. Read an excerpt of What She Left.