Thursday, May 29

Singled Out - Simon Brett

Laura Fisher, newly divorced from her overpowering husband, still recovering from an abusive childhood, and successful in her career as a television producer, sets out to get the one thing she can't achieve on her own - a child. The one-night stand does get Laura pregnant, but the man involved did not leave happily, and Laura is horrified to read the next day that a young woman who looked a lot like her was brutally strangled - in the same area Laura's tryst took place, and that the father of her child has been charged with the murder. Fearful that her baby will now be tainted by bad blood on both sides - her mother was also strangled, by her father - she resolves to never tell her son the truth about his origins. Twenty years later, despite all her best efforts, Laura's son Tom is something of an apathetic disappointment - at least until his girlfriend, a Laura lookalike, spurs him on. When Emily, too, is strangled, Laura fears the worst - does bad blood out?
The front blurb says Singled Out is "erotic, tense and chilling" - I must have missed a hell of a lot of subtext, because I found it unconvincing, overly dramatic and unrealistic. In particular I'd like to know which part was allegedly 'erotic' - there's a clinical scene at the beginning, where Laura gets pregnant, and a somewhat well written reunion between Laura and her long-lost lover, but neither were anything like erotic in my opinion.
I didn't engage with any of the characters - from the unsympathetic Laura, her protective cop brother Kent, her gay best friend Rob, her ex-husband Michael, her boss Dennis, the uppity girlfriend Emily, or her distant son Tom. I only completed Singled Out because I was out and didn't have anything else to read. The dénouement, clearly intended to be a cunning twist, was obvious from very early on, the ending of the novel was flat and uninteresting. Give this a miss - Alex

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