EXCERPT: It didn’t matter that this was where his last real lover had died.
It was their place now.
She saw a tartan blanket, a thermos of tea; triangular sandwiches packed in opaque Tupperware, all plucked from a wicker hamper. She’d visualized him, leaning against the old beech tree, both arms around her like lengths of tarred rope, telling her the names of the plants and plucking stray twigs and silvery catkins from her hair. She saw herself barefoot; dirty-kneed in a ragamuffin dress, a tartan shawl pinned with a sprig of holly. Fantasy, of course, but one of her best…
‘Sweet chestnut,’ he’d said, slapping a random tree trunk. ‘This one’s ash. The brambles have bound their branches. They’re holding hands, look. And up there; that bracket of mushrooms – they can cure sore throats. Taste OK too. Nice in a stir-fry. They tend to explode if you let the fat get too hot, but I like a meal that offers an element of danger . . . ‘
Come back, Liz. Liz! Oh for God’s sake . . . Betsy!’
The words come from within her: a chorus of voices, each gasping as if running out of air. She registers pain, suddenly. Pain and loss and fear.
ABOUT ‘SUSPICIOUS MINDS’: Liz Zahavi is desperate. Desperate for her controlling partner, Jay, to stay with her, to actually love her. Desperate to be well again, after a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Desperate to be understood.
Private therapy seems like the answer to her prayers, but Liz doesn’t even make it to her first appointment. Lost in a maze of country roads, she crashes her car, only to be rescued by a brooding local farmer . . . who just keeps on rescuing her. Attractive and intense, Jude is a dream, and Liz doesn’t want to wake up.
But four years ago, Jude’s perfect, pretty wife died alone in the woods near their house. And as Jude’s past boils into the present, threatening to destroy their new happiness, Liz begins to wonder what exactly her new man is capable of . . . and how far he’s willing to go.
MY THOUGHTS: David Mark’s writing style is both raw and brutal, and almost poetic. He certainly has a way with words and an innate ability to draw the reader into the scene he has created. His characters are larger than life – they seem to explode from the page and wedge themselves firmly into the reader’s mind.
Liz Zahavi, legally Elizabeth, but Betsy in her heart, has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. It is characterized by emotional instability, disturbed patterns of thinking, impulsive behaviour and the tendency to form intense but unstable relationships. Her partner, Jay, is controlling, domineering, almost OCD. Liz, not Betsy, thinks that if she ran past him in flames, his major concern would be that the curtains didn’t catch alight. He threatens her, often, telling her that no one else would put up with her,that she cannot survive without him. He erodes her confidence, stamps out any small spark of independence. But she has a good relationship with his young daughter Anya, who sees her as a free spirit, a welcome antidote to her rigid, work obsessed parents. Her family is a nightmare. Her mother was abusive. Her sister thinks she is lucky to have Jay to look after her.
Lost and alone she meets Jude, who rescues her from an encounter with Campion, local landowner, bully and worse. I thought of Hitler. And then he just keeps on rescuing her, dismissing her concerns about her BPD, saying that he loves the fire in her, that it should never be dampened or extinguished. And Betsy (not Liz, though Liz will come to visit from time to time) senses something timeless in Jude. He is nurturing and gentle, but there is a sense of darkness and violence lurking beneath.
Suspicious Minds is a book that crosses a lot of boundaries. There is a fair bit of darkness and violence in this story. But it is not gratuitous. It fits. It is a story of greed and dominance, of people who use violence and threats as a means to an end, interwoven with a beautiful story of two lost people finding themselves and each other. It is also tempered with a dry wit that had me snorting with laughter at times. I was impressed and will be seeking out other books this author has written.
Oh, and just for the record, the cover doesn’t do this book justice.
‘She finds herself furious that she smell of freshly baked scones cannot be trapped in an aerosol and sold as a room deodoriser.’
‘Don’t overthink it. Don’t analyse it to death. Don’t deconstruct it, because it might not fit back together again.’
‘Long before social media, the world was full of wankers.’
THE AUTHOR: David Mark spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post—walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels. He lives in Yorkshire, England.
DISCLOSURE Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Suspicious Minds for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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