SUMMARY – The 10-second review
Plot-driven psychological thriller with convincing characters – British – Well written – Author to watch.
Ask No Questions is a well written, realistic psychological thriller set in Derry in 1994 and 2017. Its well-drawn characters are interesting, if not always likeable, and the twists keep you guessing to the end. This is the first Claire Allan book I’ve read but I can see why she’s become popular.
Journalist Ingrid Devlin is drawn back into the lives of people she grew up with and into the drama that took place 25 years ago, when 8-year-old Kelly Doherty disappeared on Halloween night and was found murdered a few days later.
This thriller is a plot-driven whodunnit, but it’s Allan’s characters that keep you hooked. Far too many thrillers have clichéd, one-dimensional characters that might as well just be named ‘Wily Cop’, ‘Damaged Girl’, ‘Evil Killer’, etc. because they are so damned obvious. By contrast, Allan keeps you guessing, not just about what the different characters have done, but about their essential …. character!
To start with, the protagonist Ingrid is a convincing, multidimensional character, trying her best to be a conscientious, intrepid journalist while at the same time she’s terrified, wondering if she should get the hell out of all this, fast. She’s at a loss to know who she can trust, she doesn’t always make the wisest decisions and she puts herself at risk. In fact, she’s a bit out of her depth and floundering. All of this makes it easy to empathize with her, even when you’re thinking, ‘No, stop, don’t DO that!’.
We see the other characters from Ingrid’s perspective, sharing her uncertainty and inability to figure them out. Is Ingrid’s boss Ryan just a common-or-garden cheating creep doing what he can to keep his paper afloat, or is there more to it? What’s up with the weird twin brothers Niall and Declan? Is one of them a bad guy, and if so, which one? Is Jamesy a naïve innocent or a psycho manipulator? And who’s side are the police actually on? Is everyone hiding behind a mask?
Ingrid receives several warnings to back off: everyone is suspect and no one’s motives are clear.
Ask No Questions is a fast paced, tense, tightly plotted novel and the ending, while totally believable, will no doubt surprise you.
I definitely recommend this and I’ll be putting more Claire Allen books on my reading list!
My thanks to the publisher, the author and Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
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