Tag Archives: Emma Healey

‘Whistle in the Dark’ by Emma Healey

Lana and her mother Jen are vacationing in the Peak District, when Lana suddenly goes missing for four days. She is found alive, albeit bruised and bleeding, but won’t talk about what happened to her except to say, “I don’t remember.” The author, in this book and in her earlier debut novel Elizabeth is Missing, explores how relationships between mothers and daughters can be affected by mental illness. The novel has a great premise and explores a good concept, but for me it did not deliver.

I found it a slow burner bordering on boring and not nearly as insightful or intriguing as Elizabeth is Missing. That one was one of my all time favourites actually, because it was suspenseful, clever, engaging, and compassionate. I continued reading only because I was thinking that at some point it would grip me after all, and even though the last ten pages were riveting and came close to what I had expected from this author, it was too late.

‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is MissingstarstarstarstarstarGobbled up this stunning debut novel in no time…I just couldn’t put it down! How can a mystery be solved by someone who can’t remember the clues?

Might as well quote from the flyleaf, because it sets the story up best. “Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn’t remember to drink it. She goes to the shops and forgets why she went. Back home she finds the place horribly unrecognizable–just like she sometimes thinks her daughter Helen is a total stranger. But there’s one thing Maud is sure of: her best friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it. Because somewhere in Maud’s damaged mind lies the answer to an unveiled seventy year-year old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about. Everyone except Maud…”

This is a fantastic read, brilliantly executed, highly affecting, and thoroughly entertaining. It is a darkly comedic mystery/thriller but offers also a poignant insight into the life of someone with dementia. Because the narrator has dementia herself  (like in Still Alice by Lisa Genoa) the reader gains empathy for this frustrating illness–both for the person who suffers from it and for the carer. The voice of Maud herself is totally unforgettable.