Extreme Reading – Tideline by Penny Hancock

Reading and ironing are never a great mix, but I found Tideline the sort of book you’re compelled to apply yourself to without pause, whilst walking downstairs, chopping vegetables and so on. After a minor burn I realised I’d just have to abandon everything else until I’d finished the story.
Tideline is a thriller which focuses on a tipping point for the central character where obsession finally leads to an action from which there’s no turning back. (The tagline on the book cover is “He chose to come to the River House. She chose to keep him there. Forever…” “She” is a middle-aged woman, Sonia, and you know from the blurb that “he” is the fifteen-year-old nephew of a friend.) So, you’re aware right from the beginning of the who and what in relation to the crime that takes place, but the why – and the final outcome – are withheld right until the end. Those questions provide tension in spades as gradual revelations about Sonia’s past trace their way towards her dysfunctional present.
I found the descriptions of the Thames in the book intensely evocative and often beautiful; the contrast of these with the disturbing subject matter was striking. 
Penny Hancock uses two narrative voices to tell her story and these both seemed entirely convincing to me, and totally consistent. There’s nothing clichéd about Sonia. Her situation just as the story begins – a seemingly normal person, existing in her well-heeled community amongst unsuspecting friends and family – makes the story all the more chilling. I would definitely recommend this book.

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