Hi, everyone! This is my second post today as part of the blog tour for T. R. Richmond's newly released debut, What She Left. You can check out the excerpt post here.
When Jeremy Cooke hears about Alice Salmon's tragic death, he is rocked to his core. Once upon a time, Cooke was very close to Alice's mother and felt a fond affinity for Alice as well. Her death can't be her end.
And so he begins collating material on Alice - Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, texts, journal entries... anything and everything he can lay his hands on pertaining to her life and experiences. A project forms, one with an anthropological basis - a map of Alice's life. But amazingly, what begins as a bit of an obsession and refusal to say goodbye soon transforms into an investigation that could shed light on Alice's final moments.
What She Left is a great example of storytelling through somewhat unique means. At heart, Alice's death is a mystery. But so is her life. Using letters, diary entries, and all sorts of electronic correspondence as the narrative thread, Richmond builds a tale that not only fills in the gaps of Alice's story, but of her mother's, her friends', and Cooke's as well.
The various pieces form chapters of a sort. Chapters that are short enough to keep the story moving at a fairly quick pace. And yet, though this is described as a thriller and though there is - as I mentioned - a mystery central to the story, the book doesn't really read like a thriller at all. Instead, it's a sort of cross between the aftermath of death and it's effects on the living and a commentary on social media and the electronic stamp one leaves behind these days. (As well as the notion that not all of a person's public facade can truly be trusted.)
Richmond's debut is a fascinating one that will appeal to readers who enjoy unreliable narrators, epistolary novels, and psychological suspense.
As a bonus, the publisher has put together two extras for readers: Alice's Facebook page and Professor Cooke's Tumblr.
What She Left is out now from Michael Joseph.