By Amanda James, A Cornish Retribution was an introductory free Kindle Unlimited title I could reach the end of. So many I can’t. Genre? It is ‘domestic noir’ or ‘psychological fiction’, call it what you will, but it is not too terrifying, so that suited me.
Samantha, the protagonist, is something like a Joanna Trollope-style heroine, starting out as a woman who has everything treasured by many (big house, successful children, time to write, a sea view) which quickly turns to shifting sands. Her late husband is not quite the man she thought he was, leaving her vulnerable. His death is dealt with very quickly and very early on, so his only role in the plot is to leave her in difficult circumstances which propel the story forward. Her vulnerability is a factor in what happens next.
It did keep me reading, though if someone asked me if it was gripping or compelling, I would probably say not. Would I read it twice? No, I’d have no need to. However, it was a page-turner, and I reached the end very quickly, having completed the book over two days, which is pretty good going given my current rate of progress with most books. I guessed the ending well before the end but that may be because I was able to concentrate on the novel, getting through the vast bulk of it while sitting on a train with no real interruptions. It’s an easy read, and I would probably try more of her novels if they similarly intrigue without feeling too demanding.
Plot: Samantha meets an old flame at a school reunion, with a clinging unattractive wife, and it develops from there (I shall not spoil it). It strikes me by the end that Samantha and Dan are made for each other, but maybe that’s unfair. Let’s just say that a hot tub plays a rather large role. The author’s character development is sound, and some early observations are also fitting, such as the scene at the reunion where the most boring boy in school tells our protagonist about his job, house, car and two foreign holidays a year, while also saying he’d like to self-publish his (boring) memoir that no one would read.
I love that phrase that people use when they think they could be a budding author: I don’t have the time to write! Like, who does unless they make time? Samantha is a writer, so while she tolerates rubbish spouted by those who aspire, her writing also builds her strength, resilience and self-esteem. She realises that she is published and, therefore, a success, which helps her in her more self-deprecating moments (which grow rarer as the plot develops.)
From a writer’s perspective, the book is useful, too, for we share her experience of writer’s block and how she shifts her book emphasis, changing the whole fabric of the book she is writing, eventually writing something far more syrupy than her original crime novel. Christmas in Cornwall which she finally settles on, one can imagine as the kind of syrupy stuff that sells in droves.
I have to say that the Cornish part of the title also attracted me, the landscape a feature, and I do envy them the writing retreat concept.
Cornwall, crime, character – what not to like?
A good, easy read, so recommended.