A Domestic Abuse Thriller

Author: Deborah Bee

Clare James shows up at the police station barefoot, smelling of paraffin, burned, and desperate. She has finally worked up the courage to leave her abusive husband despite his threats. D.S. Clarke, a sergeant experienced in dealing with battered women and domestic abuse situations, however, thinks something doesn’t quite add-up with Clare’s story. Maybe it’s her shifting personality, her evasiveness, her convenient lapses. But Sally Ann, another abuse survivor who was in the right place at the right time and connected with Clare, believes her story.

Clare goes to a women’s refuge to hide from her husband. Here, under Sally’s protective care, Clare starts to confront her memories and find her voice, alongside a sudden and surprising violence all her own.  While D.S. Clarke elicits Sally’s secret help in probing Clare for the missing pieces in her story, the women at the shelter come together and attempt to live a normal life in a place of pain and new connections.

Every Move You Make is a slow-paced thriller that concentrates on relationships, specifically the friendships and enmities formed in the women’s shelter. While D.S. Clarke investigates, slowly unraveling Clare’s story, the narrative oscillates between our own doubts and Sally’s observances as a veteran abuse survivor. This approach works to keep the thriller “did she/did she not” aspect going while also building character and shining a light into a bleak, often forgotten part of life.

It took me quite a far way into the story before I made up my own mind about Clare’s guilt or innocence. The author played brilliantly with fact and cover-up while also leveraging the unreliable narrative of a trauma survivor who is still stuck in fear, confusion, and the physical after-effects of long ranging abuse. When the tide starts to turn, the conclusion speeds up, and while the reveal is expected in many ways, it is nevertheless satisfying and gloriously complete. Sally’s own story, the man from whom she has been running for over a decade, weaves nicely into the finale, and all the shock and pain escalates to a series of deadly events.

This was my first experience of author Deborah Bee, elicited by a random Audible recommendation. I thoroughly enjoyed the cadence of this story, the realism of the characters, the connections and dual focus of the story, and the cleverly constructed mind games. I will certainly be checking out Bee’s other works.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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