Today I’m taking a break from my customary diet of historical fiction to bring you my review of the latest thriller by J. S. Monroe, The Other You, which was published in the UK on 9th January 2020. Thanks to Vicky at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and for my review copy via NetGalley.
About the Book
Kate used to be good at recognising people. So good, she worked for the police, identifying criminals in crowds of thousands. But six months ago, a devastating car accident led to a brain injury. Now the woman who never forgot a face can barely recognise herself in the mirror.
At least she has Rob. Young, rich, handsome and successful, Rob runs a tech company on the idyllic Cornish coast. Kate met him just after her accident, and he nursed her back to health. When she’s with him, in his luxury modernist house, the nightmares of the accident fade, and she feels safe and loved.
Until, one day, she looks at Rob anew. And knows, with absolute certainty, that the man before her has been replaced by an impostor.
Is Rob who he says he is? Or is it all in Kate’s damaged mind?
Format: Hardcover, ebook (496 pages) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 9th January 2020 Genre: Thriller
Find The Other You on Goodreads
In my Q&Awith J.S. Monroe to mark publication of his previous book, Forget My Name, he revealed “My next thriller is a modern, high-tech take on an old trope: the doppelgänger.” Well, he was as good as his word because The Other You is an incredibly clever blend of the bang up-to-date – drones, facial recognition software, wearable and smart technology – and older superstitions about doppelgängers, doubles and changelings.
Despite being just under five hundred pages long, The Other You zips along at a breathless pace thanks to the short chapters and the fact that events unfold over the course of only a few days. The author is also the master of the punchy final sentence of a chapter or cliff-hanger ending.
The story is told from three points of view, the first of which is Kate herself so the reader witnesses her doubts and uncertainties first hand. I think it’s fair to say the reader may have their suspicions awakened about certain individuals a little earlier than Kate does.
Then there’s Kate’s ex-boyfriend, Jake, a former crime reporter and now not entirely successful author – although he can lay claim to being ‘big in Finland’. I loved the self-deprecating humour as Jake encounters someone who’s read one of his books only to find out they picked it up for 10p in a charity shop. Jake’s never forgotten the happy times he and Kate had together and how one reckless action ended their relationship.
Finally, there’s DI Silas Hart, Kate’s former boss when she worked as a super-recogniser who still feels guilty that his desire to make the unit a success may have pushed Kate beyond her limits and contributed to her accident.
Events unfold in a seemingly never-ending stream of twists and turns including some distinctly dystopian elements before the book reaches its heart-thumping, nail-biting climax.
The Other You is an expertly crafted page-turner that kept this reader guessing right to the end. Touching on issues such as the impact of AI, concerns about infringement of civil liberties and current criminal activity such as county lines gangs and modern slavery, The Other You is a thriller for the modern world. Oh, and by the way, it also proves humankind definitely has no need for a refrigerator that can spontaneously switch itself to ‘diet’ mode.
In three words: Chilling, intense, gripping
Try something similar: The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
About the Author
J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full-time writer.
Monroe is the author of eight novels, including the international bestsellers, Find Me and Forget My Name.
He also writes under the name Jon Stock.