‘The Pupil’ by Dawn Goodwin ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives.  Psychological suspense that explores a labyrinth of lies, manipulation and revenge. Perfect for fans of Louise Jenson and Katerina Diamond.

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces her to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control. If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

Thank you to Aria, Netgalley and Dawn Goodwin for the chance to read and review this book.

Katherine Baxter feels like she’s lost herself being a stay at home wife and mother and craves something more that folding laundry and cooking whatever her husband Paul wants for dinner that night. She’s always dreamed of being a writer, so she signs up for a week-long course taken by bestselling novelist Samuel Morton. At the end of the week she is thrilled when Samuel says he sees potential in her story and offers to mentor her. But her husband Paul isn’t so happy and is insistent she stop writing to concentrate on him and the children. Determined to pursue her dream, Katherine has clandestine meetings with Samuel and hides the laptop from Paul. But while she is excited at the thought of finally publishing her own novel, Katherine is also nervous as she’s harbouring a secret. A mistake she made that changed her life and still haunts her.

When Samuel invites Katherine to an Author Event so she can get her face out there and start garnering interest in her novel, he introduces her to his wife and agent, Viola Matthews. The two women hit it off but Viola is sure she recognises Katherine. Unable to let it lie she researches her husband’s pupil and finds a connection to her she didn’t expect. A connection linked to the mistake Katherine is desperate to keep secret and Viola vows to expose.

This book had been on my Netgalley shelf for a while before I read it. Once I started reading I regretted that it had taken me so long. The storyline was simple and offered this book lover a small glimpse into the Literary world, something I found fascinating. But as you read there were numerous sub-plots expertly interlaced within the main story that increased the suspense and made the book impossible to put down.

This novel is a web of dreams, secrets, lies, heartbreak, control and vengeance. Both the couples are in unhappy marriages where one partner is exerting control over the other and keeps breaking them down until they did what they wanted them to do. It seems that the control from their spouses, along with their love of writing, is what pushed Samuel and Katherine closer as they found an escape in their writing sessions; free of the watchful and critical eyes that usually hang over them.

I liked that there were short diary entries written by Katherine over the course of her life sporadically used as chapters. It not only showed that she’d always written in one form or another, but helped us understand who she was and how her past shaped the woman she was today. They also helped endear her to the reader and we could understand how she ended up in an abusive marriage that she thought was normal. I loved how the author would describe things such as the character’s voices. It was so vivid. An example,that comes to mind is when she wrote “Viola’s asked, her voice like a scalpel” I pictured her words literally slicing the other character as she said them.

The one issue I had with the book was that the synopsis is written as if Viola is the main character but from the start this is Katherine’s story and Viola was a secondary character who shared less than half the narration. I found this a little confusing at first but loved the story and quickly forgot I’d expected a different one. As I had figured out some of the secrets and guessed Viola’s plan I thought that parts of the ending were predictable, but there were some surprising twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. The author again lured the reader into a false sense of security before pulling the rug from under them with a shocking revelation. The Pupil is an unputdownable and exciting read that is perfect for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Out now.

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