'I wasn't a victim, though, was I? Not yet, anyway.'
Revenge of the Tide introduces us to Genevieve Shipley, a young woman who, as we meet her, is enjoying the life she had dreamed of; she is living on a barge at a marina on the river Medway in Kent, working away at decorating and renovating it to her requirements, and socialising contentedly with the other 'liveaboard' folk who are moored up nearby. It's an entire world away from her previous lifestyle in London, where she worked in a pressurised, constantly demanding sales environment during the day, and as a high earning pole dancer in an exclusive gentleman's club at night. As the novel opens, Genevieve is preparing for a boat-warming party that she's hosting that evening, and she has invited new friends from the other boats, and also some old friends from her life back in London; as she admits to herself, it's a 'mismatched group of people'. But when she makes a horrifying discovery that night, a body washed up right by her barge, the old life she thought she had left behind five months ago intrudes on the new, and her hard-earned peace and safety is shattered.
Into the Darkest Corner was the first novel by Elizabeth Haynes, and it was Amazon's Best Book of the Year 2011. It was also my personal favourite book of 2011, an absolutely cracking read that I have happily recommended to many fellow readers and will continue to do so. Therefore, to say that I was excited in my anticipation of the author's next book would be an understatement. I was also a bit nervous; how would the author follow on from her debut, would I enjoy it, would I find it compelling too? The answer to both is a definite yes.
I found the storyline gripping and I finished the book in a couple of sittings, kept intrigued by the way that what happened in the past is slowly revealed bit by bit as the novel progresses, the narrative moving from the present to the past, back and forth, building up our curiosity and the suspense about what Genevieve was involved in back then. Back in the present, the investigation into the body found at the marina continues, another alarming discovery is made, and the calm life aboard becomes anything but for Genevieve. The novel's title is also the name of the boat Genevieve has bought; upon purchase she learned that it is unlucky to change the name, so she keeps it as the Revenge of the Tide, and she loves the boat, seeing it as her protector; 'living aboard such a majestic, beautiful boat made me feel a bit safer, a bit less lonely. And it looked after me and hid me away from view. Boats were supposed to be female, but I always thought of the Revenge as male: a big, quiet gentleman, someone who would keep me safe.' Nevertheless, however homely the barge seemed to be becoming, it feels like the name is rather ominous, and Genevieve's need to feel safe and hidden now reveals a little about her feelings for the past.
I was intrigued by Genevieve herself; she is strong and independent, determinedly driven by the thought of her future escape to life on the boat, but despite this strength, she is flawed and naive too at times; she believes she has a handle on everything and everyone, but there is a darker, crueler side to some that she hadn't suspected. Somehow she sustains the demanding schedule of her day job and the evenings dancing, keeping her fit, enjoying it and providing such a fast way for her to raise the money she needs to fund her dream. The dialogue really flows well, the police questioning rings true, and the author creates and fleshes out rounded characters too; I could picture Genevieve visiting Malcolm and Josie along the pontoon. I really enjoyed Revenge of the Tide. Roll on novel number three, please!
Read my review of Into the Darkest Corner here.