Sticks and Stones is a deliciously twisting psychological thriller from an unforgettable new voice.
Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.
In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?
The book opens at Philip’s funeral – Imogen, Naomi and Ruby are all there. Two ex-wives and the current girlfriend. Tears are shed but for who and why?
Imogen takes us through the days before the funeral and we learn that all was not what it seemed in Philip’s world – a police officer, a father, a husband, ex husband and partner. Imogen see’s him as he really is – an abuser who needs to control, who craves admiration and attention. They are going through a torturous divorce, Philip wants everything his own way and he’s a master manipulator.
Imogen goes to see Philip to move the divorce along but he’s not home, Naomi’s there and Imogen realises all is not well with this new relationship. Then she bumps into Naomi again at the hospital and see’s how bad things have become.
Philip turns up at Imogen’s laying down the law, threatening until Imogen breaks and locks him up in the ‘cinema room’ – the cellar…
Jo Jakeman has written a terrific book which is well paced and almost borders, at times, on dark humour but this is too serious a subject for that. There is some difficult reading, it’s tense and moving. She writes it so well you cannot but become engrossed – to read about what Imogen does, what Philip does, what Naomi does and whether Ruby will ever see the truth. You will want to know because the characters are drawn so well and engage you throughout the book. You will be hooked and the final chapters…..
A really good book which addresses abuse in the home, physical and mental, and the long term effect that it can have even when the marriage breaks up, even when he has moved in with someone else, even when you’re supposed to be free in a distinctive, compelling and, dare I say, rather satisfying way.
With thanks to Harvill Secker via NetGalley for an eARC in return for an honest opinion.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harvill Secker (12 July 2018)
Jo is a writer based in Derbyshire. Her debut Psychological Thriller will be published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) on 12 July 2018, and as The Exes’ Revenge by Berkley in the USA on 11 September.
Jo Jakeman @JoJakemanWrites