Friday, 13 May 2016

Black Wood by SJI Holliday

Black Wood
Black Wood is the first in a trilogy by the writer SJI (Susi) Holliday.  It is set in the fictional town of Banktoun which is situated in East Lothian in Scotland. Much of the story is told in the first person by Jo, a young woman, who has been badly affected by something which happened to her as a child when she was playing in the woods with her friend Claire. As the story progresses we find out more about what actually happened 23 years ago which resulted in Claire being confined to a wheelchair.  There are also chapters entitled "The Boy" and "Woods" which at first seem a little confusing but help to explain the incident in the woods. 

The characters are well drawn - although Jo has her problems, I felt sympathetic towards her and wanted her to sort herself out.  She seemed to be her own worst enemy.  Luckily she has friends in the town - Claire,  Craig, the owner of the book shop where she works and Davie Gray the local police sergeant.

The descriptions of the small town are excellent - everyone knows everyone else and there are no secrets.  It doesn't take the residents long to work out who Maloney actually is and then the story starts to get exciting.  The author says that in a small town "things spread like a disease, no matter how hard you tried to prevent them". 

This is an excellent psychological thriller - it is well written and very atmospheric especially in the descriptions of Black Wood, the cottage in the woods which Jo has inherited from her Gran. There are also humorous parts to the book - I loved this description of one of the elderly women - "she'd forgotten to pick up her pension and that was hardly like her, seeing as she was tighter than a pair of support stockings".

I'm certainly looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

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