From the author of The Dinner Guest, The Woman on the Pier, is the fourth novel by author, B.P. Walter. Caroline Byrne is living what appears to be a charmed life with a brilliant career as a screenwriter, a seemingly happy marriage, money in the bank, a beautiful home and a teenage daughter, Jessica, who is smart and well behaved. As with most suspense books, nothing at all is what it seems. Caroline is burnt out. Her husband Alec has had multiple affairs and Jessica is corresponding over the internet with a boy she hasn’t met. When Jessica travels to the seaside for a weekend with her friend, Caroline becomes concerned when calls to her daughter go unanswered, Caroline becomes a little concerned. Two police officers show up in the middle of the night to tell her that Jessica has been killed in a terrorist attack in East London.
This suspenseful novel is told from three points of view and timelines that jump back and forth throughout the book. The points of view are Caroline, Evan Kelley and Michael Kelley, the boy Jessica was supposedly corresponding with. Caroline learns Jessica was meeting Michael in a tube station in London, where she was killed. Made even worse, he never showed up. Now she is determined to prove that Michael is responsible for the death of her daughter, and not the terrorists who actually killed her. She heads to Southend to track him down and confront him.
One of the more interesting parts of The Woman on the Pier is that every character is as unappealing as the next. And most of them cannot redeem themselves within the novel. There is Michael Kelley, a teenage conman, his brother, Evan, consumed with his own guilt that results in him cutting himself. Their mother is an addict, Alec, Caroline’s husband, is cheating on her and Caroline, who ignores the wreckage around her, is determined to place blame on a blameless teenage boy, who may or may not have been the boy her daughter went to meet. I can describe the plot as theatrical, trying to pull too many genres into one neat package. Every time the reader thinks the story is resolving, there is another twist to the plot, which can be exhausting. The web becomes a little too tangled.
There are many trigger warnings in this suspenseful but disbelieving novel, including: pedophiles, cutting, terrorist attacks, drug abuse, cheating, amnesia, and dead bodies. The author has put a lot of trauma into one book and not one character is free from bad luck. I will say that the ending is surprising and feels too neat for this book.