Both of You

by Adele Parks

Publisher’s description

Happy. Married. Missing.

Leigh Fletcher, devoted wife and stepmum, goes to work one day and never returns home. Same week, different world … Kai Janssen leaves her sexy, wealthy husband and their luxurious penthouse, and vanishes into thin air. Both husbands seem distraught, claiming they have no idea where their wives have gone. DC Clements wants answers. Did these women run away or were they taken? Most importantly, where are they now? When the detective discovers a shocking link between the missing women, it’s clear the truth can devastate. Now Clements must work against a ticking clock, before both wives disappear forever..

Reviewer: Jacquie Byron

Hands up who’s ever wished they could live another woman’s life? Hands up who’s ever thought, wouldn’t it be nice to live in a house completely different (assume better) than mine, with a life completely different (think less housework and more sex) than mine? Good. Go get this book.

Both of You is what I call a corker of a “downtime” read, that book you just dive into, mimosa or cuppa in hand, when you want to completely let go of your day-to-day humdrum and be transported.

This is a tough book to talk about because the “secret” linking the two missing women in this book is pivotal to the plot and, accordingly, a massive spoiler. Saying that, seasoned crime readers will guess where Adele Parks is going before the big reveal – it occurs just under a third of the way through. Some may find the central conceit hard to swallow. If you can get past it you will have fun.

If you like red herrings you will love this book; it’s a veritable herring festival. Some of the author’s sleight of hand had me flicking back to re-read passages, armed with the new information I’d gleaned as I got deeper into the story. There is also good stuff about wife and motherhood, men’s expectations of their female partners, relationships in blended families and more. At one point I was getting echoes of “Amazing Amy” from Gillian Flynn/Gone Girl in terms of how women sometimes try and morph personalities, wardrobes and even bodies to fit with a new beau. Flynn remains pretty hard to top in that department in my humble opinion.

There is some great writing here. Hardly surprising, it’s Parks’ twenty-first novel. I particularly admired some of the internal dialogues of the main characters: “I stayed in my head. A vivid and filthy place to be.” And also some humour and illiteration – a combination that’s a personal favourite of mine: “So I realised that people played fast and loose with hearts and hymens.”

Interestingly Parks chose to include the “C-word” in this book, meaning COVID-19 is just raring its ugly head in London (where the book is set) as the action is taking off. This leaves DC Clements fighting to get to the bottom of the mystery while the city is literally shutting down around her. The element adds nicely to the claustrophobia in some parts of the story.

Parker has a wonderful way of showing us how even the most normal, messy complications in ordinary lives can take on a sinister glow in the right circumstances, and under the scrutiny of the right world-weary detective. I felt like I needed to apologise to a couple of the chartacters at the end of the book for the nasty things I had suspected them of along the way.