Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl. My thanks to Sophie at Ransom PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Head of Zeus for my review copy. Do pop over to Instagram and check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Charli at bookishcharli.
About the Book
Liv loves her son, Adrian. That’s why she keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.
Anastasia’s life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan and starts modelling. Suddenly, she’s rich. She’s desired. But then she begins to see the dark side of her new life: the high-pressure catwalk shows; the glamorous, drink-fuelled after-parties; the sun-baked Italian palazzos owned by powerful men. She will do anything to escape.
Selma is an investigative journalist in Oslo. She’s been looking into the dangerous underworld of the modelling industry, but can’t seem to get her article published. Then, a woman goes missing in Sandefjord and Selma’s about to uncover the biggest story of her life…
Format: Hardback (416 pages) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 18th August 2022 Genre: Thriller
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This unsettling and at times dark thriller immerses the reader in the sinister side of the fashion world in which young women, often from Eastern Europe, attracted by the prospect of travelling the world and striding the catwalks for big fashion houses discover the reality is quite, quite different. They find themselves drawn into a murky world of drugs and sexual exploitation in which men hold the power and aren’t afraid to use it. For the women, staying is risky, but leaving is even more so.
Investigative journalist Selma’s involvement comes about because of her role in investigating the previous disappearance of a young girl from the very same place as the missing woman – Sandefjord. (The case was the focus of the author’s previous book, Playdate.) Selma’s investigation takes her into a very murky world populated by extremely ruthless and, in some cases, very damaged individuals. I loved her strength, her fearlessness and her determination to get answers.
I confess I guessed some key aspects of the plot pretty early on but with this type of thriller you can never be sure the author’s not going to spring a surprise until you reach the final page, can you?
The standout element of the book for me was the wonderfully tender portrait of Adrian, a young boy who is different from other children. ‘Adrian craves freedom. He feels trapped in his own mind; he’s not like anyone else and he wishes he could fly away.’ He is obsessed with airplanes, loves watching them take off and land at the nearby airport, can spend hours absorbed in creating origami models of planes and knows the codes for every international airport. Contrary to what many think, he’s intelligent but often finds it difficult to communicate or express his feelings except through the ‘secret’ language his mother Liv has taught him. What he does know is there are things he must keep secret at all costs and, that if he’s to save his mother, he will have to be very brave. Spoiler: he is.
After She’d Gone is a taut, skilfully-crafted thriller that demonstrates all that glitters is not gold. It would make the perfect beach read.
In three words: Compelling, pacy, dark
Try something similar: Cold As Hell by Lilja Sigurðardóttir
About the Author
Alex Dahl is a half-American, half-Norwegian author. Born in Oslo. She studied Russian and German linguistics with international studies, then went on to complete an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and an MSc in business management at Bath University.
A committed Francophile, Alex loves to travel, and has so far lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland, Bath and London. She is the author of four other thrillers including The Boy at the Door, which was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger.