With Good Me Bad Me, Ali Land has given us the perfect psychological thriller.
Annie’s mother is a serial killer. For years, she’s been killing little children and getting away with it. But one day, aged 15, Annie can’t take the horror of her mother’s actions any more and turns her into the police. Annie is given a new name (Milly), a new foster family and a new life – but her mothers trial date is looming and she knows she’ll have to testify.
And all this happens in just the first couple of chapters.
This breakneck paced and deeply engaging book is a real treat. I read the whole thing in under a day – a day I was really meant to be doing something else. The characterisation is terrific – both the slow creepy build of getting to know Milly, and the rich creation of the incidental characters. Milly’s spoilt, vicious step-sister and dim, desperate friend were particular treats to read.
The voice of the novel is extraordinary, capturing the conflict at the heart of Milly’s character – with a mother like hers, will she ever turn out to be good? Offering no easy answers, this is a perfect book club read – a novel that makes you want to argue about the characters as if they’re your friends.
Essentially, this book does everything that a psychological thriller should, and does it well. A flawed but magnetic protagonist, an unflinching delving into our messiest emotions, a lingering sense that all is not what it seems… And crucially, a pace so quick that it never occurs to you for a moment to wander off. This book demands your attention, taking over lunch hours and bus rides until it’s done.
A rich, dark and gripping psychological thriller, this bold debut will be everywhere this year. Don’t be like I was and refuse to read something (The Girl On The Train) because it’s “too popular” – if you like this kind of book, get a copy NOW for your next long train journey. An absolute cracker.