Saturday, May 22, 2021

Safe and Sound

Safe and Sound by Philippa East
2/18/21; 352 pages

Safe and Sound by Philippa East is a highly recommended psychological thriller.

Jennifer (Jenn) Arden is a housing manager who needs to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent. When Jenn and the bailiffs can't get any response and see a pile of mail piled up inside the door, the police are called. They open the door, discovering the body of 26 year-old Sarah Jones inside. Apparently Sarah died some 10 months earlier and no one reported her missing or requested a wellness check on her. The discovery shocks Jenn and sets her on a quest to find out more about Sarah and track down people who knew her. At the same time Jenn is in a fragile state dealing with issues of her own. She has anxiety issues, constantly worries over her son, Charlie, and is trying to overcome something in her past.

This psychological thriller features an unreliable narrator with a secret who is trying to discover more information about a woman who may also be an unreliable narrator with a secret. An alternating plot thread follows two young girls who are cousins, Prin and Jane, whose connection to Jenn's present day search is explained much later. All the characters are presented as individuals with complicated pasts as more details are slowly disclosed in the plot. Jenn experiences growth as a character as she tackles her problems and the search for information about Sarah.

The plot of Safe and Sound does move at a slow pace which serves to highlight the fragile mental state of Jenn and increases the tension as new discoveries are made or new information about the past is revealed. Jenn keeps to her search with tenacity and determination, even as her own health may be in jeopardy. The alternating chapters between the two girls and Jenn's present search help increase the tension and drama in both storylines. The final denouement provides a satisfying, emotional conclusion.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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