January 19, 2023

Book Review


reviewed by Pam Guynn

Curfew by Jayne Cowie is set in a dystopian near-future Britain. This story is set in a time and place were women dominate workplaces, public spaces, and government. Women are no longer afraid to walk home alone or catch the last train or bus.

Why? All men (and boys 10 years old or older) are electronically tagged and aren’t allowed out of their residences between 7 P.M. and 7 A.M. Failure to adhere to the curfew will result in a three-month prison sentence for the first offense.

Things are better now. Right? Cohabitation licenses require multiple weeks of couples counseling. Violence against women has dropped significantly. The other side is that men are limited by the shifts they can work. Additionally, if they have violated curfew, it is tough to find a job. When a woman is murdered after midnight, it couldn’t have been a man because a Curfew tag is a solid alibi. Isn’t it?

This story is told from the points of view of four women. Pamela is a senior police officer nearing retirement who investigates the murder. Sarah Wallace is a single mom who has rebuilt her life after sending her husband to prison for violating curfew. They’re divorced, but he is going to be released soon. Their teenage daughter, Cass Johnson, hates living in a world that restricts boys and argues continually with her mom and her teacher, Helen Taylor. Helen teaches a class on the history of curfew. She has also applied for a cohabitation certificate with her boyfriend Tom.

All four women are reasonably well-developed, but not very likeable much of the time. The multi-angled character process is effective. Readers start to see how each women connects to and understands or misunderstands the others. This adds complexity and depth to their relationships.

Besides the story going back and forth between these four women, it moves back and forth in time from the present day to four weeks earlier. While this gives a great view of the lives of the women and their friends, it also slows the pace somewhat.

This story features a Britain with repressive control systems and an absence of individual freedoms for men and boys as a needed alternative to the violence against women that is so prevalent in the world today. The plot is twisty and provocative. It doesn’t take into consideration gender identities other than male and female. However, it does look at generational differences in points of view regarding the Curfew Laws.

Overall, this is novel makes one think about issues as well as providing a good murder mystery.

All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date was March 22, 2023.


Curfew available at: