I have read all of Thorne Moore’s books, so far, and I can honestly say this is one author who can turn her hand to any genre.
From her days when she was published with Honno and her domestic noir stories such as: Motherlove, to being published by Lume and the enthralling Llys y Garn books that hold a blend of gothic mystery and family drama, for example: Shadows, to her ventures into Indie Publishing and her powerful Sci Fi novels, beginning with: Inside Out, and now as an author of Diamond Press (her first book with them being Fatal Collision) this author has a talent for compelling plots and characters (to quote a well-known cliche) that leap off the page and live with the reader well after the story is finished.
And so it is with Bethulia.
Alison, Danny, Jude. Three girls bound closer than sisters. Nothing can divide them.
Until Alison falls for Simon Delaney. Handsome, successful and ambitious, what woman wouldn’t want him? He’s surely her perfect husband. So why does she commit suicide?
If it is suicide. The police say yes, except for the driven DC Rosanna Quillan. She says no, but she can only watch as Jude and Danny fight for the prize – the widower. How far would either of them go to have him?
This is a story that grips from the start; the death of one of three women who have been friends from childhood. Initially drawn together by grief as young girls, and now, two of them again, Danny, Jude, as young women, with the apparent suicide of the other, Alison.
I say, ‘apparently’, because, thrown into the mix we have an unreliable narrator, the protagonist, Judith Granger. Brought back to England, from her work abroad by the dreadful news, her part of the story is told in first person point of view. And, to be honest, I was completely taken in by her actions. As always, I won’t give any spoilers in my review, but this is so difficult with Bethulia, because there are two plots here, but the same scenarios: one ambiguous, one explicit. And it takes the reader quite a while to get to that, “oh!” moment; that realisation of what is going on.
Because there is also an omniscient narrator, who follows the other characters, and relates their actions in a third person perspective.
And then there is Simon Delaney, the antagonist, who tells his story from his viewpoint, – a man it is easy to dislike, distrust, yet still wonder about….
And each point of view brings conflicting emotions in the reader. And that’s about all I can say about the storyline. Suffice it to say, it’s riveting.
And, as always in Thorne Moore’s novels, every character, even the minor ones, have distinctive characteristics and dialogue that bring an instant image of them. The major players are multi-layered, well rounded, their personalities evolving; being revealed, as the book progresses. Those you learn to love, those who from the beginning reveal themselves to be … shall we say… dubious ( or worse!) Besides the three main characters, Alison, Danny, Jude, I particularly like DC Rosanna Quillan. There is a small but dramatic twist at the end of Bethulia, which makes me wonder if we will hear more of her.
A short word about the settings in Bethulia. Whether it’s the interior of police stations, churches, or the description of houses such as Jude’s memory of Alison’s childhood home, Summervale, “a forbiddingly brown house”, or the secluded converted boathouse, Bethulia, which was to become a haven for Danny, or the snow-filled streets of Oxford, and the ethereal Teifi estuary in Wales,the portrayals give an evocative sense of place.
This is a well written story told in the usual confident and erudite writing style of this author, weaving themes and plot twists effortlessly throughout. As you may have guessed, I really enjoyed this book, and I would thoroughly recommend Bethulia to any reader who enjoys psychological and action thrillers with a strong plot and and memorable characters. You won’t be disappointed.
About Thorne Moore:
Thorne was born in Luton and graduated from Aberystwyth University (history) and from the Open University (Law). She set up a restaurant with her sister and made miniature furniture for collectors. She lives in Pembrokeshire, which forms a background for much of her writing, as does Luton.
She writes psychological mysteries, or “domestic noir,” exploring the reason for crimes and their consequences, rather than the details of the crimes themselves. and her first novel, “A Time For Silence,” was published by Honno in 2012, with its prequel, “The Covenant,” published in 2020. “Motherlove” and “The Unravelling” were also published by Honno. “Shadows,” published by Lume, is set in an old mansion in Pembrokeshire and is paired with “Long Shadows,” also published by Lume, which explains the history and mysteries of the same old house. She’s a member of Crime Cymru. Her latest crime novel, “Fatal Collision is published by Diamond Crime (2022)
She also writes Science Fiction, including “Inside Out” (2021) and “Making Waves” (2022)