From the outset, this annual long weekend planned as an idyllic break for three couples got off to a bad start. For various reasons the three men, Paul, Toby and Mark, were unable to get away until the following day so their wives went ahead to spend the night alone in the off-grid, refurbished barn they had booked on a remote farm in Northumbria.
A cozy fire, a good meal and a few glasses of wine sounded like the perfect way to spend an evening before the men arrive the next day. It would help the newest wife, Emily get to know the other two women, Jayne and Rachel. However, after the farmer had driven them up to the isolated barn and left them on their own, they found a disturbing letter which would change everything for them. Waiting for them on the kitchen table, the letter claimed to be from their close friend Edie, stating that she had murdered one of their husbands. With no phone or internet reception, the women became frantic, unable to contact their husbands to reassure themselves this was just a poorly judged joke.
The group was originally made up of four couples. Rob, Toby, Mark and Edie had all been close friends at school, along with the boys’ rugby coach Paul. As students they would holiday together, and after Paul and Edie married, would go away on couples’ weekends with their wives or partners. However, since Paul had recently died in an accident, Edie turned down the invitation to join the other three couples, so this weekend was always going to be different.
With a storm closing in, tensions build as the women try to reassure each other that the letter must be a hoax. After all, why would Edie want to murder one of her life-long best friends? However, each of them feels anxious worrying that it is her husband who has been murdered. As the night goes on, strange things start to happen, and they become more and more desperate, chaotically charging around the property in the dark trying to get a phone signal or searching for the way back to the farmhouse in the storm.
Told from multiple viewpoints, by the three women and the farmer as well as an unidentified voice belonging to someone who is clearly deranged and obsessed with carrying out a disturbing plan. The lack of chapter breaks, made it a little confusing initially to know which character is narrating at any time, but this improved once their voices become clearer and everyone’s actions and motives started to come into focus.
All the couples have flawed marriages and secrets they are keeping from each other and their partners. New mother Rachel, normally a capable doctor, is reeling from coping with her new baby and Toby’s refusal to help out and is self-anesthetizing by drinking heavily. New wife Emily has found out that Paul lied to her about a trip he took and in no longer sure about trusting the man she dearly loves. Jayne has her own issues she has been hiding since she left her job in army intelligence, and perhaps doesn’t know Mark as well as she thinks she does.
Dark and intense, this is a with a gripping tale of obsession overlaid with a menacing atmosphere as the sinister plot unfurls.
With thanks to Random House UK and Netgalley for a copy to read. Publication expected 3rd February.