Published July, 2016
Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable?
London, five months before 7/7. Georgie is living a good life when one night of drinking with her best friend Julian leads to actions she will regret.
When Georgie meets Nikolai, a former Russian soldier, in a pub while out alone, sparks fly. While Julian struggles to deal with her rejection, Georgie realises how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai. She begins to suspect that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.
Then London is attacked…
Blind Side explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.
I mean this in the best possible way…this book wasn’t what I expected. I was even hesitant to read it initially because it’s touted as a psychological thriller and this past year psych thrillers haven’t been my favorite. I’ve actually been avoiding books that fall into that sub-genre but there was something about this one that intrigued me. I love that it’s set in London, one of my very favorite settings for crime fiction and I love that one of the main characters, Nikolai, was a Russian soldier who somehow ended up in London. With hints of love gone wrong and obsession, I felt I couldn’t pass this story up.
We initially meet Georgie and Julian, best friends for many years, who seem to live by the belief that men and women really CAN be just friends….or can they? When too much wine is mixed in with an underlying desire on one of their parts, one thing leads to another and when all is said and done Georgie is left, not only with a hangover, but massive regret. Initially, she believes they can still be friends despite knowing Julian’s true feelings but Julian has other plans in mind and little by little he becomes a man unhinged. What I really enjoyed was along with that storyline, Georgie continues to live her single and carefree life and she meets Nikolai at a pub one evening. He’s edgy, a musician, and very handsome…what more could she possibly ask for? She is immediately drawn to this Russian, although he very much gives off a vibe of having secrets.
Who Nikolai really is and how he’s come to be in London makes for some very engaging storytelling as I was never really sure if he was on the up and up. He’s clearly hiding something and I couldn’t figure out if it involved his intentions toward Georgie or if he was personally dealing with too many inner demons as a result of fighting in the Russian army. Something was amiss and I was feeling tense about it! Couple this with the escalating troubling behavior by Julian and you’ve got an obsessive triangle that more than hints of drama, suspense, and danger.
Not only is there a compelling love/hate relationship going on but with the attacks on London as a backdrop, Ensor expertly explores terrorism and immigration, highlighting the inner workings of loyalty and betrayal. For these reasons, I would describe this book as part romantic suspense, part political thriller which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I loved the variety of angles and the way the author brought all these threads together in the end. One criticism I do have, however, is that I don’t feel like I really knew Georgie and what made her tick. Being the main character and narrating the story I really wanted to feel more of a connection with her and I felt like she remained below the surface. For me, Nikolai was more fleshed out than her and I would’ve preferred it to be the other way around. Minor issue. Overall, this was a strong debut and I think if you’d like to try something different that’s also very timely, this might be a great choice for you.
Many thanks to Jennie Ensor for my copy