I Could Be You
PublisherCanelo
Date Published23 January 2020
 
 
ISBN-101788637712
ISBN-13978-1788637718
Formatpaperback
Pages384
Price£ 8.99

I Could Be You

by Sheila Bugler

When Dee Doran comes across the victim of an apparent hit-and-run driver, she is horrified to find an empty child’s buggy nearby, with the woman’s child missing.


Review

Dee Doran, a woman separated from her drunken husband, comes across a dead body not far from her home, apparently the victim of a hit-and-run accident. She instantly recognises her friend and neighbour, Katie Hope, a single mother. The buggy of her two-year-old son, Jake, is empty.

This is a novel full of twists and turns, all of which are believable and provide evidence of a well thought-out plot. The first, which acts as a springboard for the remainder of the book, comes with the forensic examination of the body and proves that the woman has never given birth and that the missing Jake cannot be her son.

Dee lives on the coast road in Eastbourne, not far from the mobile home she had let to Katie. The two have become good friends and Dee is very fond of Jake.  At 51, she does not regard herself as retired, but she has been unable to find the kind of job she has been seeking. Prior to her marriage break-up she had been a well-known investigative journalist and still hopes to find a position that will allow her to use her skills. 

The puzzle posed by the death of Katie and the disappearance of Jake persuades her to become privately involved in the search for an answer – a decision partly influenced by what she considers a rather unimpressive police effort. It isn't long before it becomes obvious that things are not as they appear to be. In particular, it turns out that the dead woman was not at all who Dee thought she was.

Only gradually does the mystery begin to unfold as the author takes us on a journey into Katie's past. She is the daughter of a publican whose wife has died. He attempts to compensate for this by keeping his daughter on what he regards as the straight and narrow, ensuring that she does not become involved in the everyday pub life. All his efforts are in vain, however, when Katie meets a handsome young man who becomes a regular and – as far as Katie is concerned – a dangerous customer. The situation is complicated when Bella, the beautiful barmaid, shows an interest in the same man.

The switching in time goes on throughout the novel. A chapter headed ‘Dee’ tells us that we are in the present, whereas those headed ‘Katie’ or ‘Bella’ take us back to a previous time and lead us up to the death on the road. Nothing, however, can be taken for granted, even when it seems obvious. The plotting is always believable, in spite of being highly intricate, and keeps the reader guessing, although their guesses may frequently be wrong. 

The only possible criticism – and it is a very slight one – is that clever plot construction seems to take precedence over the delineation of character. Dee, with whom the reader is clearly expected to sympathise, does not always engage the interest – certainly not in the way the female lead in the author's previous novels does. However, it appears that this is not the last outing for Dee Doran and we are almost certainly going to get to know her better.

Reviewed 31 January 2020 by Arnold Taylor