The Long Fall, by Julia Crouch, is described as a revenge thriller about a mother trying to protect her family. I found this aspect of the plot weak. The protagonist irritated me as so many of her actions reeked of stupidity. Her background may have been sheltered, but a working class girl clever enough to have been offered a place at Cambridge would be capable of critical thinking. The way she acted suggested a distinct lack of cognitive awareness.
Having said that, the first half of the book succeeded in drawing me in. The use of journal entries worked well and the characters were believable enough at this stage. Given their ages and the loneliness of the protagonist whilst travelling, it was possible to accept that she would act as described. Each reader comes to a book with their own personal life experiences colouring how they will respond to the unfolding tale, and I have yet to meet a young person as foolish as Emma, but I could swallow that such a girl may exist.
Having created the background and teased with sparse plot details, the build up to the key act was well written. Even though I knew what was coming I was eager to find out the hows and whys. This middle section was tense and enjoyable. Its conclusion left me satisfied and ready to continue with what was to happen next, the revenge. It was this which disappointed.
As soon as Beattie reappeared I guessed what was coming; not all of the finer details, but the gist of what was happening. A supposedly intelligent woman, even one with the many issues described, would not have walked so blindly into every trap set, would not have complied so meekly. I found too many contradictions in Emma. Whereas I could accept some stupidity in a nineteen year old, alone and afraid in a foreign land, it was harder to believe that a woman with the life experiences described could be so blindly foolish.
My antipathy towards the second half of the book grew as it progressed. I could not believe that, given how these people had acted in the past alongside how they acted now, Emma would not have at least suspected that all was not as it seemed. Her unquestioning acceptance grated to such an extent that I struggled to continue with the story.
The concluding chapters went some way towards redeeming a book that I was no longer enjoying. There were a few pleasing plot twists, although some loose ends were perhaps tied up a little too neatly. It was not enough though. The book was about an act of revenge, and this was the aspect that I found weak. A person with the background and intelligence that the protagonist was given would have shown more sense.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.