‘Everyone has a secret.
But some are worse than you could ever imagine.’
[ About the Book ]
Someone is watching her. She just doesn’t know it yet.
Nell Sweeney has led an ordinary life. Every day she walks to and from the hospital where she works as a nurse, believing that no harm can befall her.
Until one day she is taken.
Because someone out there has a secret. Someone out there has been watching Nell – and they’ve been watching others like her too.
Nell is the unlucky one – she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if she isn’t found soon, someone will make sure that she isn’t the last woman to disappear…
[ My Review ]
The Nurse by Claire Allan was published March 17th with Avon Books and is described as ‘a chilling, gripping read, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Gillian McAllister.‘ Claire Allan has written five previous thrillers, all of which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed so I was looking forward to getting stuck into The Nurse.
Tackling the very relevant theme of women’s safety is central to the horrific tale that unfolds in The Nurse. Claire Allan refers to the ‘institutional and systemic misogyny’ in her author’s note highlighting the popularity of the incel (involuntarily celibate) movement, one that I admittedly never heard of. Claire Allan describes it as a community where ‘blame is laid very firmly at the door of feminism for stripping men of their worth. In these communities, men outline their ideas for a ‘fairer world’ – believing that they have a biological need for sex and that being denied this most basic of rights dehumanises them’.
With this in mind, The Nurse, is the story of the disappearance of a young woman, twenty-two year old Nell Sweeney. Nell lives in rented accommodation with her friend, both working very busy shifts in the local hospital. When Nell doesn’t arrive home, her friend becomes concerned and contacts Nell’s parents, Marian and Stephen. Marian instantly fears the worst and contacts the police. Initially the police consider their options and express a certain level of concern but Nell is an adult and may just have deliberately stepped away for some unknown reason. Marian is unconvinced. She knows her daughter and her disappearing is very much outside of her normal behaviour.
Marian and Stephen have a very fractious relationship and, as the story unfolds, the reasons become clear. The couple display a less than united front and although both are clearly very concerned for Nell’s safety there are deep-rooted problems surfacing.
Meanwhile, in parallel, an unsettling image is building of a person with confidence issues, a person who feels rejected, belittled and disrespected. This person feels demeaned by the manner in which women ignore him, underestimate him and generally make him feel less of a man, so he decides to do something about it. He senses a shift in power and, after a dive into the dark web, he finds his tribe, a bunch of men who feel disenfranchised by women. They offer him support and validation which helps him fight his inferiority complex, making him more confident and leading him down a very unexpected and sinister path.
The Nurse has an urgency attached to it that has the reader rushing forward as the story escalates and as Nell’s whereabouts become known to us. Her fear is clearly palpable and her vulnerability exposed as the horror of her situation unfolds. Her captor is a vengeful and cruel individual who wants glory, who derives power and satisfaction from the humiliation of women. Brilliantly developed and depicted, he is an evil and sadistic person, prepared to take any steps to achieve notoriety.
The Nurse, albeit fiction, is a very unsettling and disturbing read. This is the second book I have read recently that highlighted this growing and very malevolent underground faction of men who are encouraging each other ‘to step up and be counted’, but with some very shocking outcomes. Claire Allan has really touched a nerve with The Nurse. It’s fresh, it’s relevant and it is frighteningly real.
[ Bio ]
Claire Allan is a former journalist from Derry in Northern Ireland, where she still lives with her husband, two teenage children, two cats and a dog who thinks she is a human child.
In her eighteen years as a journalist she covered a wide range of stories from attempted murders, to court sessions, to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday and countless human interest features.
Claire has been writing crime fiction since 2018. The Nurse is her sixth thriller.
She has also worked as a story consultant on forthcoming BBC drama Blue Lights and is currently working on a TV adaptation of her novel The Liar’s Daughter.
Twitter ~ @ClaireAllan