Book Review: IF HE WAKES by Zoe Lea

If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

IF HE WAKES by Zoe Lea is a captivating psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat

I’ll admit I was a little put off by the title of Zoe Lea’s debut novel IF HE WAKES when I first saw it. Not because there is anything wrong with it but because there are so many other books out at the moment with similar sounding titles that I was crying out for something different. But just like you should never judge a book by its cover, you should also never judge a book by its title because IF HE WAKES is so much more than your average mystery thriller.

IF HE WAKES opens with Rachel, a happily married mother of two, finding a Twitter message from her husband Phil arranging a romantic liaison with another person. Assuming he’s having an affair, Rachel follows him only to witness something so much worse: a hit and run using his car.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie is increasingly worried about her fiancé Adam, who’s not been in touch for days. When Suzie learns of huge debts racked up in her name she fears he has run out on her, but then the threatening calls start and she thinks something terrible has happened.

As Rachel and Suzie both discover shocking things about the men they love, they become embroiled in a chain of events which looks set to destroy both of their lives – and their friendship – forever.

Captivating, suspenseful and brilliantly written, IF HE WAKES is a psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. From the opening chapter to the shocking ending, Lea gets straight into the action instead of opting for a long, drawn-out build up to the characters and their story. As the narrative flicks between Rachel and Suzie’s stories, the intrigue is kept high with plenty of unexpected twists and even though the narrative takes a darker turn mid-way through, it is sensitively done.

The two main characters, Rachel and Suzie, are well-rounded and believable. On the surface, Rachel appears to have a perfect life, but as events start to unfold, her world comes crashing down. The author’s decision to have her on crutches for most of the story thanks to broken ankle works particularly well, highlighting not only her vulnerability but also her inability to take action on what she suspects.

In many ways, Suzie is the polar opposite. After discovering her fiancé has apparently disappeared, taking all of their money with him, she’s quick to make excuses and give him Adam benefit of the doubt, even though the evidence is screaming her in the face. While this is a little frustrating at the beginning – even we can see that Adam is not the man he said he was – when the truth is finally revealed, it is completely unexpected.

As expected with a psychological thriller, there are plenty of twists and turns throughout the plot and Rachel and Suzie’s stories eventually collide. I did feel, however, that this wasn’t really a story about trust between friends, as the synopsis implied, but rather a story about trust between partners and the secrets we keep.

That said, IF HE WAKES is a great read that will keep you hooked from the start to the end. What’s more, at just 225 pages long, it is possible to read it in just one day, making it the perfect holiday read or weekend escape.

4 out of 5 stars

IF HE WAKES by Zoe Lea is released on 30 April 2018 via Canelo.