I KNOW WHO YOU ARE by Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books; 4/23/19
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: gripping, edge-of-your-seat suspense with a killer twist
In the mood for a book that’s dark and binge-worthy? You’ve come to the right place. In her stellar sophomore suspense novel, queen of the plot twist Alice Feeney delivers a genuine nail-biter, and a book that’s a worthy follow-up to her knockout debut, SOMETIMES I LIE. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE is a psychological thriller that pushes boundaries and delivers a truly twisted reading experience; it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for a suspense novel with an edge, it will be right up your alley. Following an actress who has spent her life adopting identities other than her own, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE takes readers inside a troubled marriage, and into the past our protagonist has worked so hard to keep hidden. When our protagonist’s husband goes missing, suspicion falls on her. Can she keep her past from catching up to her? Feeney made a splash with her debut thriller SOMETIMES I LIE, and in I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, she ups the ante. You might not guess it from this book’s relatively innocuous plot and seriously stylish cover, but I KNOW WHO YOU ARE is dark through and through. Alice Feeney has a dark imagination, and she pulls no punches in her sophomore thriller. What begins innocently enough twists and turns into something altogether shocking and utterly addictive. Clear your calendars: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE begs to be devoured whole.
Meet Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from.
Except one person.
Someone knows Aimee very well.
They know who she is and they know what she did.
When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is―but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when you love an author’s debut novel, you’ll find yourself an odd mix of excited and nervous when it’s time to read their sophomore effort. I found myself in exactly that position when I picked up Alice Feeney’s second psychological thriller, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Her debut, SOMETIMES I LIE, was one of my favorite reads of the year—and it was the first psychological thriller in ages to genuinely shock me with its plotting. Would her second release live up to my high expectations? Reader, I’m happy to report that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. In I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, Alice Feeney proves herself a master of page-turning, razor-sharp plotting—and she illustrates once again how sly and wicked her imagination really is. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE begins with a simple premise: a woman’s husband has gone missing. But in Feeney’s expert hands, nothing is as simple as it seems. Over the course of this addictive suspense novel, the author unspools a story of childhood trauma and long-held secrets, all building towards a genuinely jaw-dropping, “I-can’t-believe-she-went-there” finale that will knock even the most seasoned suspense reader sideways. If you, like me, are always on the hunt for psychological suspense that pushes the envelope, your next must-read is right here.
Central to any great psychological thriller is a compelling protagonist, and that’s exactly what Feeney gives her readers with this story’s leading lady, Aimee Sinclair. An actor by profession, Aimee has spent her entire life - both on-stage and off - assuming identities other than her own. Aimee isn’t keen on the spotlight, though; she’s very comfortable being that actress whose face you can’t quite place. She revels in the anonymity her job affords her, and loves being able to adopt and shed the identities of the characters she plays at whim. It’s a brilliant decision on Feeney’s part, giving her protagonist this profession; after all, who better for readers to follow in a psychological thriller than a woman whose job inherently involves a measure of deceit? Aimee is a chameleon, and it’s what has given her such success in her career—and it’s also what makes her such a compelling protagonist for us to follow. How well do we really know Aimee? How well does she really know herself? And if she’s such a successful actor, so adept at putting on the proverbial masks her job requires, could she perhaps be fooling all of us, too? Feeney creates a protagonist both endearing and potentially untrustworthy—a woman whose skills and profession makes her a perfect subject for a story of psychological suspense.
I KNOW WHO YOU ARE begins with a simple mystery: Aimee returns home one day to discover that her husband is missing. It’s a familiar premise, to be sure, but I can promise you’ve never read a “missing spouse” story that unfolds quite like this one. As readers venture into the heart of Aimee’s marriage, they are also slowly but surely granted glimpses of Aimee’s childhood… and what they discover there will shock and disturb. I KNOW WHO YOU ARE is told in dual timelines, and the intersection of the two will keep readers on the edge of their seats. In the present, readers follow Aimee as she struggles to keep a grip on her career - and on her sanity - while simultaneously searching for her husband and seeking to prove her innocence to the police. The deeper Aimee digs into her husband’s disappearance, the less sense everything seems to make—and the more suspicious the police become of our protagonist. Could Aimee have harmed her husband? Both the reader and Aimee herself will find themselves questioning everything they thought they knew.
Meanwhile, in the “past” timeline, readers meet Aimee in her childhood, and begin to uncover some of the precipitating factors that explain why Aimee is the way she is in her adulthood. When Aimee was a very young girl, she ran away from home—and the events that befell her as a result have a profound impact on her psychology for the rest of her life. This “past” timeline quickly became my personal favorite. It’s written with a huge amount of perception and insight, and authentically draws readers into the worldview of a young child. Feeney does a superb job writing from a young Aimee’s perspective; it’s downright fascinating to be placed inside the mind of a child in this way, and to witness her impressions of things that might seem very ordinary to us as adults. Trips to the bank, storytelling tapes, McDonald’s—these everyday things are, for a young Aimee, eye-opening and larger-than-life discoveries. The flipside is, of course, that we as adults also understand the horrors of what young Aimee endures far better than she can in the moment. When Aimee runs away from home, it sets in motion a series of events with ramifications that will be felt for the rest of her life. This “past” timeline is riveting and heartbreaking, and it contributes emotional and psychological depth to Feeney’s superb thriller. Stylistically, I would also be remiss not to note how beautifully Feeney weaves the “present” and “past” together; readers will notice how effortlessly chapters flow into one another, with the final line of one chapter being picked up by the first line of the next—a clever and seamless way of moving the reader between two time periods without missing a beat.
Now, we all know I can’t say too much about this story’s ending—but I will say that if you’re a reader who values a shocking plot twist, you will find a whole lot to love in I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Feeney has a knack for writing the kind of plot twist that is so very hard to come by: something jaw-dropping yet closely tied to clues left for the reader throughout the story. I never read psychological thrillers trying to predict the story’s ultimate reveal - I much prefer to just go along for the ride and see where the author will take me - but I can truly say I did not see this book’s finale coming. Not even close. Oh, and that finale? It’s one of the most twisted, disturbing, stomach-turning final reveals I’ve read in quite a while. This book might look innocuous, but it’s hiding within its pretty package a truly dark story of love, secrets, and revenge. Alice Feeney has done it again, and I’m already looking forward to seeing what she will dream up in her next release.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions my own.
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Flatiron Books (April 23, 2019)
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