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Book Review: Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

I’m starting with a confession it took me a long time to get into Dear Amy.

I think I had serious book hangover after reading Songbirds, I still keep thinking about that book.

Dear Amy has sat languishing on my TBR for a few years, just waiting for the day I finally decided to click on it. Earlier this month I made a promise to get to get to grips with my Kindle TBR and knock ten off that list… isn’t going well, it’s taken me two weeks to finish this one which is unheard of.

It sounds like I’m gearing up to tear this book apart, I’m not, I didn’t hate but I wasn’t gripped immediately and I kind of expected to be.

Margot Lewis is an agony aunt for her local newspaper in Cambridge, her column is called Dear Amy, she’s also a teacher at a local school.

In terms of agony letters, she’s seen it all until the following lands in her cubby hole….

Dear Amy,
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery

Margot assumes it’s a twisted hoax because Bethan Avery has been missing, presumed dead for 20 years.

Soon more letters from Bethan arrive, all containing details that were never released during the initial investigation. Margot finds herself drawn into a hunt to find out exactly who is writing the letters – could it be Bethan after all this time and if it is, just where has she been?

Okay, so, a mixed view on this one. 

Chapter one started with a bang, we’re in the present day, with a local teenager, Katie, who Margot teaches, disappearing. 

After reading the opening of Dear Amy, I thought “excellent, that’s exactly what I want from the opening of a thriller”, it did chill me, it was atmospheric, it was creepy, it was a great set up and then, it lost me a bit.

After Katie’s kidnap, we’re introduced to Margot and things aren’t exactly going great for her and that’s before the very strange letters start appearing, I’m not going into too much detail because we all hate a spoiler.

The whole premise of Dear Amy really interested me, it sounds intriguing, it’s full of mystery and by and large, the book delivers on that; however, the first half felt a little too slow for me. 

There were points where I was willing something to happen, I wanted the little pieces of the puzzle to be revealed to move the plot forward. 

Then, on the other hand there were other points where I had to keep going back because I wasn’t sure what had happened. It wasn’t fully holding my attention. I think that in part is a result of some very long chapters.

I found myself enjoying the second half of the book much more. It had more pace as it reached its conclusion and I found myself ignoring my hairdresser’s attempts at chatting as became desperate to see how Dear Amy ended. 

There were certain events that I felt needed a little bit more explanation, but I was satisfied by the end.

I didn’t find the big reveal surprising; it answered the question I’d been asking myself. I liked the twist, I wasn’t annoyed that I’d worked it out, it’s part of the enjoyment of reading a thriller, looking for the clues and coming up with a theory, I also like to be right so, you know, that’s great.

I’m aware this review is a little all over the place but that is exactly how I felt reading Dear Amy.

It just didn’t feel very consistent, it began as a slow burn then cantered towards the end; there were times I was bored, times I couldn’t put it down and then times where I was just confused…..that makes it sound like a dysfunctional, toxic relationship, which is perhaps the best way to sum up the story of Dear Amy, I think I’ll leave it there.

P.S If you’ve read Dear Amy, I’d really like to know what your thoughts are, I’m clearly still confused it ha, ha, ha.

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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