There are two sides to every story.
But only one is true.
S is for Stranger is the new novel from Louise Stone a.k.a. Charlie Philips. Published by Carina, it is due for publication on Kindle 16th June and in paperback, June 30th. I received my copy from NetGalley & Carina in exchange for an honest review.
‘Sophie wished she’d paid more attention when her little daughter, Amy, caught sight of a stranger watching them. She only looked away for a second. But now Amy’s gone.
No one trusts an alcoholic. Even a sober one. The police are suspicious of Sophie’s tangled story and so is her ex-husband, Paul. Especially when new information emerges that changes everything.
But what if Sophie is telling the truth? What if her daughter really is missing? And what if that stranger at the fairground wasn’t really a stranger at all…’
‘Often it was said that the loss or death of a child was the same as losing a limb. But it was more than that; it was as if your soul started to die, your reason for being had been wrenched from under your feet. Amy was my world, the glue that kept my world together. Without her, I was afraid I might break.’
Psychological suspense is how Charlie Philips describes this, her novel, under the pseudonym Louise Stone. I would have to agree. From the beginning I was at times angry, upset, frustrated as I was confronted with every chapter.
Sophie and Paul are estranged, with Sophie now having limited access to their daughter Amy, due to circumstances that have arisen in the past. Amy goes missing and Sophie was the last person to see her. She is a mother in despair, yet she feels that the authorities are not on her side. She is angry with Paul and how he is handling the situation. The police are struggling to figure out whose story to believe.
Sophie is living daily with the guilt and the horror of ‘losing’ her daughter but soon realises that there is a very sinister presence in all of this as her past begins to surface.
‘A cold sweat moved over my body, my legs buckling beneath me. I had no idea who it was from but I knew now that this wasn’t a hoax. This was revenge; my past had finally caught up with me and was threatening to drag me backwards to a very dark place.’
Sophie’s parents were killed in a car accident during her college years and she lost herself in drink, drugs and other illegal activities as a means of coping. Her best friend Bethany was ‘murdered’, while Sophie was present and she now struggles with dealing with all this horror and grief.
Sophie finds employment in a law firm after finishing college, she marries Paul, after getting pregnant with Amy, but her life continues to spiral of of control, resulting one day in the loss of the one light left in her life…AMY!!
Sophie ultimately decides to ‘go it’ alone in her search for Amy. The media are questioning her past and she feels this is taking from the attention of the search.
‘I had loved my parents and lost them too young. I had loved Bethany and lost her. Love was too easily lost. I knew that my search for Amy was up to me and me alone.’
Throughout the novel I grew increasingly exasperated with the police, with Paul, with all the people supposed to be helping Sophie. Paul, particularly, seemed almost vague and non-committal in the search. He very much put the focus on blaming her for Amy’s loss, yet not doing an awful lot to contribute himself. He just keeps repeating that only Sophie can find her.
There are times in the novel, when you are not too sure whether you are reading the hard facts of the case or just the figment of a very over active imagination. This, while sometimes frustrating, does add to the build up of the suspense.
You think you know who is responsible, but then you will turn the page and your suspicions will be directed elsewhere.
S is for Stranger is a great debut novel in psychological suspense that will completely capture your attention.
It is a great read for any time of the year but it would make the perfect beach read (you might not get too much swimming done though!!)
See for yourself & pick up a copy of S is for Stranger.
Meet the Author
Charlie Phillips, writing under the pseudonym Louise Stone, worked as a teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She was brought up in Africa and the Middle East and then – as an adult – travelled extensively before moving to London and finally settling in the Cotswolds with her partner, and now baby. When she’s not writing, you will find her scouring interior design magazines and shops, striving toward the distant dream of being a domestic goddess or having a glass of wine with country music turned up loud. As a child, she always had her nose in a book and, in particular, Nancy Drew.
S is for Stranger is her first psychological suspense thriller and it was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2014. She also writes women’s fiction under the pseudonym Lottie Phillips.
Readers can find Charlie Phillips on Twitter @writercharlie or at www.writercharlie.com (Courtesy of Amazon UK)