Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absorbing thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my invitation to take part and to Zaffre and NetGalley for my copy of the book.
What if a prank leads to murder?
When Freya arrives at her dream job with the city’s hottest start-up, she can’t wait to begin a new and exciting life, including dating her colleague Jay.
However, Nicole, Jay’s ex and fellow employee, seems intent on making her life a misery. After a big deadline, where Nicole continually picks on her, Freya snaps and tells Jay about the bullying and together they concoct a revenge prank. The next morning Nicole is found dead in her apartment.
Is this just a prank gone wrong? Or does Freya know someone whos is capable of murder – and could she be next?
“It was just a joke, a little slice of revenge…”
The story at the heart of this book is one that is all too familiar to most women. We all have stories about the male colleague who makes unwelcome suggestive remarks, gets a bit too handsy, holds onto a hug for that little bit too long or makes us feel uncomfortable in a way we can’t put our finger on. I bet there’s someone in your mind that describes right now. I know there is in mine. And what do we do? We usually brush it aside so we don’t cause a problem and tell ourselves it’s harmless fun. And if we do report it then we face the accusations that we led them on, did something to cause it and watch as things are twisted to paint them as the victim and us as the harasser. The #MeToo movement is beginning to change the tides and has inevitably sparked a wave of books and other media that address these issues. The Pact is the best I’ve read yet.
I didn’t expect this to be such a timely book but I am glad this author chose to write this particular story. As well as sexual harassment the book takes a look at other social issues such as bullying in the work place, the inequality between the sexes in certain professions, women being pitted against each other and how the media looks at female victims of crime. All the topics were handled in an honest and sensitive manner that felt realistic and sadly relatable.
The author filled this book an eclectic mix of strong, intelligent but flawed female characters. The narrators, Isla and Freya, are both ambitious and passionate about their chosen field. Both have things in their past that have left them a little fragile and fractured but also gave them strength that I don’t think they recognised in themselves at first. I liked both characters and thought their bad decisions only made them more human and relatable. Nicole was the mean girl. While she’s alive we only see her through Freya’s eyes and, as she is being bullied by her, that’s quite a biased lens. I could see how some people were manipulating things and wondered if there were things we didn’t know about that were contributing to her behaviour. Another thing that happened because we only see her from Freya’s point of view is that it was hard at times to be sympathetic or mournful of her death. The choice to make her both murder victim and villainess, and the author’s ability to evoke in me such constrasting feelings towards her, were a testament to her talent. The characters who manipulated, lied and harassed people were expertly written (I’m not naming them to avoid spoilers). They were classic examples of abusers and narcissist – masquerading behind a veil of charm, charisma, kindness and kinship. Their victims were like lambs to the slaughter at the hands of their expert scheme.
The story is written in multiple timelines and moves somewhat sporadically between them. It felt choppy and confusing at times as a result and I sometimes had to double check what timeline we were in to make sense of things. But as more of the story was told this got better and things flowed more smoothly. There were times I liked the use of multiple timelines as they were used to weave clues through the story and tease the reader before jumping to another point in the story, leaving us in suspense.
The Pact manages to hit all the requirements for a riveting, explosive and involving thriller while also being an acutely observed commentary on some of the most harrowing, difficult and important issues we face. While I did guess some things early on I was left with my jaw on the floor when the author delivered the coup de grace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy is a writer and book blogger based in South Africa. She has been shortlisted twice for the acclaimed Miles Morland African Writing Scholarship. Her short stories and poems have been published in multiple anthologies including Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review and the Short Sharp Stories anthologies. When she is not writing her own fiction, she ghost-writes books and columns for global tech and financial companies.