Booklist Reviews 2018 February #1
Marc Southwood, along with his two young daughters, is devastated when his wife, Alexandra, vanishes during her evening commute. Marc's insistence that Alexandra is in danger is confirmed when police find her blood-soaked belongings abandoned on a riverbank. Responding to rumors of Alexandra's marital discontent, and questioning the absence of her passport, detectives focus suspicion on Marc. In contrast, Alexandra's interspersed accounts of what happened support Marc's claims that the Southwoods remain deeply in love. But their story begins to prickle with hints of resentment as Bell gradually chronicles the couple's life together, from Alexandra's impulsive abandonment of her spot in an elite Chicago art program to remain with Marc in York, England, to the dramas of their growing family. Furthering the growing sense of unease, letters from Alexandra's friend Amelia, a famous performance artist, reveal Marc's desperation for Alexandra's attention and her unsettling pathological determination to cross any lines to further her art. A moody, gut-wrenching tale of domestic ennui, feminism, and identity, recommended for literary-thriller devotees and book groups. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
PW Reviews 2018 January #2
"A lot of what I'm writing almost definitely never happened. I wasn't there, obviously. I was missing." So says Alexandra Southwood, a University of York art history lecturer who has vanished. Early on, British author Bell signals that her provocative debut thriller—centering on Alexandra and Marc, her husband, who refuses to stop searching for her—isn't going to be just another missing person mystery. But the full extent of her audacity only becomes evident toward the end of this ingenious optical illusion, which may leave some readers gasping in admiration and others angry at being played. The more the devastated Marc learns about the woman to whom he's been married for years, all the while struggling to comfort and maintain some semblance of normalcy for the couple's two young daughters, the more he's forced to face the stomach-churning prospect that he may never really have known her at all. On one level a gripping page-turner and on another a disturbing exploration of identity, art, and decency, Bell's daring performance can't be ignored. Agent: Marilia Savvides, Peters Fraser & Dunlop (U.K.). (Mar.)Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.