Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey

A gripping drama of past secrets, manipulation and revenge

Book blurb

Delia Maxwell is an international singing sensation, an icon of 1950s glamour who is still riding high on the new 60s scene. Adored by millions, all men want to be with her, all women want to be her. But one woman wants it maybe a little too much…

Lily Brooks has watched Delia all her life, studying her music and her on-stage mannerisms. Now she has a dream job as Delia’s assistant – but is there more to her attachment than the admiration of a fan? Private investigator Frank is beginning to wonder.

As Lily steps into Delia’s spotlight, and Delia encourages her ambitious protegée, Frank’s suspicions of Lily’s ulterior motives increase. But are his own feelings for Delia clouding his judgement? 

The truth is something far darker: the shocking result of years of pain and rage, rooted in Europe’s darkest hour. If Delia thought she had put her past behind her, she had better start watching her back.

My thoughts

The main characters: Delia, singing star; Lily, young woman Delia takes under her wing; Frank, private investigator and friend to Peter (Delia’s management).

These are the three voices of the book.

Delia meets Lily on a cold, wet day as she and a friend, Celeste, are going to dinner. Lily has ingratiated herself with Delia by getting fans waiting for autographs to leave her to get along. Delia asks Lily to join them for dinner.

From then on the bond between the two women grows but not everyone is very happy about that. Then, Delia disappears on the day of an important film contract signing. There is a ceremony coming up in which Delia will be receiving a special achievement award. Peter asks Frank to look into where she is.

Frank is quite suspicious of Lily who convinces Peter and Davey, Delia’s musical director, to let her do the number at the awards in place of Delia. Celeste is also very concerned. There appears to be something off about Lily but she astounds everyone with an announcement at the end of her performance at the awards show. This puts a different perspective on things.

We read about Delia’s past, she returns and supports Lily’s climb to fame even at her own cost. Even when Delia knows that Lily has lied and Frank confronts her with evidence, proof that Lily is not who they think she is, Delia is adamant that it doesn’t matter. Delia tells Frank about her past and swears him to secrecy.

Lily is quite conniving and manipulative but also behaves as she does for a reason, she has had a difficult childhood and even with all her plotting doesn’t have everything her own way. She is young and lacks experience in some areas. Her relationship with Guy, the leading man in the film she is starring opposite, is a quite horrible and he is a really nasty character.

We see hints and more of films from the late 1940s and through the 1950s. Most especially in the film being made with Lily and Guy which even for younger readers will be relatable through more recent remakes. I will always picture Judy Garland and James Mason whenever anyone mentions A Star is Born. It is these hints which simply support the post war setting of the book. Allowing our imaginations to better conjure up a world moving on from those horrors even when they and their consequences are still so very raw.

The characters are well written and the various themes – Delia’s history, Lily’s story, Frank’s past and all the related actions that take place in the book – are very well written, how each interweaves, the sympathetic handling of each storyline and the way in which each is unravelled to bring a very satisfactory conclusion is beautifully done by the author.

This is a really enjoyable read. Well written with some wonderful characters, a book which will keep you enthralled throughout Tell Me How It Ends is well worth reading.


Thanks to Quercus for an eCopy via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own, I have not received any payment for this review.

This is my 6th book in the #20BooksofSummer20 so just 14 remain! You can find out more about this challenge by popping over to Cathy’s blog – you’ll find lot’s of other wonderful book stuff there, too!


Published: Quercus (9 July 2020)

Buy: AmazonSmileUK or from your local bookshop

V.B. Grey

Author: V.B. Grey also writes as Isabelle Grey.

V. B. Grey grew up in Manchester, was educated there and at Newnham College, Cambridge, and now lives in London.

She says: “All I’ve ever wanted to be is a writer, and that’s pretty much the only work I’ve ever done. As both Isabelle Grey and Isabelle Anscombe (journalism and non-fiction), I’ve written advertising copy, exhibition catalogues and illustrated books, been a ghostwriter, magazine editor, journalist and reviewer, and now write radio and television drama and fiction. I have learnt something from every single job. Writing is difficult, which is what makes it so endlessly fascinating, frustrating and rewarding.” (Isabelle Grey Website)

As well as checking out her website you can follow her on Twitter @IsabelleGrey

Books and other writing

Novels of psychological suspense, Out of Sight and The Bad Mother, and my new crime series set in Essex and featuring murder detective Grace Fisher, Good Girls Don’t Die, Shot Through the Heart, The Special Girls, and Wrong Way Home are all published by Quercus.

Television writing credits include episodes of series such as The Bill, Casualty, Wycliffe, Rosemary & Thyme and Midsomer Murders, the BBC/Discovery Channel docu-drama Genghis Khan, and original drama commissions from the BBC, Scottish TV, Carnival and Working Title TV. ‘Tina’s Story’, an episode of Accused, co-written with Jimmy McGovern for BBC1, (See her post, Praise for Accused).

As Isabelle Anscombe, she is the author of Arts & Crafts in Britain and America (with Charlotte Gere), Omega & After: Bloomsbury & the Decorative Arts, A Woman’s Touch: Women in the Decorative Arts from 1860 to the Present Day, Arts & Crafts Style, and Not Another Punk Book!

On why her younger self wanted to be a journalist: V. B. Grey’s post, The New Gonzo.


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