Published: September 23rd, 2021
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Happy Publication Day to this addictive and menacing thriller. Thank you Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
The young friends were unaware of the man who had followed them through the park. With his trilby pulled down, he moved stealthily through the trees. He was careful and kept to the shadows. He worried it might not have been his wisest move to join the girl on the bench but hadn’t been able to resist seeing her sitting alone like that: she was his absolute ideal.
London 1949: Queenie Osbourne and her best friend Joy are walking through the bustling city streets looking forward to a bright future. The two friends have a striking beauty which draws everyone to them. Queenie dreams of making her fortune as a singer in America and Joy is engaged to wealthy bachelor Charles Gilchrist.
As they prepare for the wedding, it becomes clear that there is a spark between Queenie and Charles and soon they commit the ultimate betrayal. But Queenie’s dream is shattered in an instant when she discovers she is pregnant.
With nowhere else to turn, Queenie is told about a man named John Reginald Christie. He helps women like her and will keep her secret. But as she stands on the steps outside 10 Rillington Place, she feels instantly threatened.
On the other side of the door, Reg Christie is waiting. Queenie doesn’t know that he has been watching her for a long time. To Reg she is perfect in every way. Now, all she has to do is knock…
Inspired by the true crime story of the Rillington Place killer John Reginald Christie, this is a chilling mystery based on a fictional cast of characters. Fans of Gregg Olsen, Louise Douglas and Jess Lourey will be hooked.
“He’s a dark one, he is. A right queer fish… It seems we got him quite wrong.”
As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. True crime mixed with a historical murder mystery? It was like it was written for me.
I think most of us are familiar with the name John Reginald Christie and the awful events that occurred behind the closed doors of 10 Rillington Place. The address alone lives in infamy; conjuring up images of helpless young women at the mercy of a sick and depraved man. In this novel the author merges fact with fiction, taking real people and real things that occurred, and combining them with fictional characters and events to create an intoxicating thriller that reads like non-fiction. I found myself googling characters and events to double check what was fact and what wasn’t as it all felt so authentic that it could have been featured in a true crime documentary.
Atmospheric and utterly engrossing, Griffiths transported me back to post-war London with such evocative descriptions and prose that I felt like I could see the dim gaslit streets and choking smog. The story is told by multiple narrators that were richly drawn, captivating and memorable, vividly putting me in each of their shoes. But as wonderfully as they were all written, what stood out to me most of all was Christie. It felt like she really got inside the mind of this sick and twisted killer. There is a pervading sense of unease as we witness him skulking around and stalking his prey, get glimpses into his depraved fantasies, and watch as he wears a mask of ordinariness to disguise himself. He sent shivers down my spine every time he was on the page and it felt authentic and I never questioned what I was reading, except that it was fiction. It was as if she’d found his journals and transcribed them.
Part of the problem with writing a book based on a well-known serial killer, is that we know how the story ends. Or we think we do. By combining fact and fiction the author is able to surprise the reader with unexpected twists. But for me, the real talent is when they can take those familiar events and still have you on the edge of your seat with your heart in your throat. And Ms. Griffiths did that again and again. As we hurtle towards those scenes where we know how it ends, there is still that rising sense of foreboding and frisson of fear that makes it impossible to stop reading. I was so invested in the story and so connected to the characters that I wanted to jump into the pages and stop it. To find a way to travel back in time to change the course of history. To scream a warning at Queenie not to go to Rillington Place because she wouldn’t find a solution, only her doom. My heart was racing so fast I felt like it was going to beat out of my chest as I waited to see if she was saved, forgetting for a moment that history has already been written and, those who step inside Rillington Place are beyond our help.
In 1949 Britain was still recovering from the war and was in a time of great change: rationing was still in effect, homes were being rebuilt, people were readjusting to normal life, women were gaining independence and the newly established NHS was changing medicine and health for the better. But it was a time caught between the old and the new as patriarchal expectations remained prevalent and homosexuality and abortion were still illegal. The author touches on and examines these topics in varying detail over the course of the book. I was deeply moved by how she portrayed Terrance’s fear that his homosexuality will be discovered and his torment at being seen as a criminal for simply loving another man. And I found the discussion of desperate, backstreet abortions to be particularly timely with the recent legislation in Texas of the so-called ‘Heartbeat Bill’. It is a potent reminder that making such things against the law doesn’t stop them, only puts lives in danger as desperate people take desperate risks.
Deliciously dark, menacing, suspenseful and unsettling, The Girl at my Door is an addictive thriller that you won’t be able to put down. This was my first foray into Rebecca Griffiths’ books but it certainly won’t be my last.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Rebecca Griffiths grew up in mid-Wales and went on to gain a first class honours degree in English Literature. After a successful business career in London, Dublin and Scotland she returned to rural mid-Wales where she lives with her husband, a prolific artist, their four black rescue cats, two pet sheep the size of sofas and writes full time.
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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx