03 December 2020


By SJI Holliday
Psychological Thriller

My Review

Carrie and Violet, both on round-the-world trips, cross paths in a Beijing hotel. Carrie's travelling solo due to her best friend's accident shortly before departure. Violet is also alone, having split from her boyfriend in Thailand. The girls decide chum up and continue their journey together on the Trans-Siberian Express. Cracks in their friendship soon start to emerge. One of the girls isn't who she claims to be and the other may have unwittingly placed herself in danger.

The goings-on in this book are testament to why you shouldn't always accept people at face value. Delve a little deeper and you may discover a whole can of wiggly worms. This book was very creepy indeed. Brimming with manipulation, paranoia, jealousy and obsession I really wanted to like the story more than I did. I found the pacing quite slow and the plot somewhat far-fetched. Whilst Carrie and Violet were incredibly well-written characters, some of the situations where unconvincing.

Whilst being an enjoyable read, it sadly fell just short of the mark for me.

Book Source: Purchased copy
My Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Paperback: 276 pages
Publisher: Orenda Books (14th Nov 2019)

The Blurb

Carrie's best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they'd planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend's place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

The Author

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. She now lives in London (except when she is in Edinburgh) and loves to travel the world.

She has written three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, which are a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller. They are: "Black Wood", "Willow Walk" and "The Damselfly" - all featuring the much loved character, Sergeant Davie Gray.

Her serial killer thriller "The Deaths of December" (written as Susi Holliday), featuring Detective Sergeant Eddie Carmine and Detective Constable Becky Greene was a festive hit in 2017.

Her spooky mystery "The Lingering" was released in September 2018, followed by "Violet" - a psychological thriller set on the Trans-Siberian Express - in September 2019. "Violet" has been optioned for film.

Writing as Susi Holliday (again!) her next two releases, "The Last Resort" and "Substitute" are due out from Thomas & Mercer late 2020 and summer 2021 - both of these books are suspense thrillers with a technological element (a blend of Black Mirror, Tales of the Unexpected and The Twilight Zone).

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