Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: December 2015
Format: eBook,496 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Rachel Jenner's life is never the same again after her eight-year-old son, Ben, has gone missing during their late afternoon walk with their dog, Skittle. It isn't supposed to happen, since they always walk the same route in the woods many times and Rachel could only blame herself for allowing Ben to run ahead of her on that fateful day. Ben's disappearance has added a strain to her already disarray state, since her ex-husband, John, has walked out of their life ten months ago and had married another woman who is working in the same hospital as her husband. John is a consultant paediatric surgeon and he certainly take pride in his job. Rachel, on the other hand, is trying very hard to move on but found herself being depressed most of the time.
DI James "Jim" Clemo has never taken on a big case until he is summoned by his superior to take on the case of Ben Finch's disappearance. Eager to perform and take his career to a higher level, he grabs this opportunity and even recommend his girlfriend, DC Emma Zhang, as the family liaison officer to Rachel's family. Jim and Emma's relationship is never made known to anyone in the police force and Jim is confident that their secret affair wouldn't mess with their professionalism.
Tension and anxiety began to build as Ben's disappearance has dragged for a week yet there isn't any clue of the case. To complicate matters, Rachel's unconventional speech during the press conference has led to an outrage of discussions and comments on all social media platforms; while some offer sympathies, most of the comments are harsh and some even insinuating that she has something to do with her son's disappearance.
While What She Knew is a tense whodunit kind of story, what makes this psychological thriller different from the others is the way Rachel and Jim give their perspectives to the readers; the former being a broken woman who has too much to handle and the latter who takes his job seriously and blames himself for not solving the case sooner. The case has affected him so much to the extent that it affects his emotional state; where at times the readers are able to read his thoughts through the transcripts by his psychologist, Dr Francesca Manelli. Rachel's voice is very distinctive throughout the story; her emotions are painted descriptively and I felt she is very much like a real person. Jim, on the other hand, appears to be a tough detective but he has his vulnerable side that even his girlfriend hasn't seen. And that broke my heart, too.
What She Knew is not only a wonderful debut by Gilly MacMillan, but it also has lots of issues for readers to ponder and discuss about. I think the ending offers a good resolution to the overall story; it is not perfect yet I couldn't think of a more perfect resolution than it. Highly recommended.