I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started reading it, but I soon got drawn in, and by the end it had developed into a real page turner that kept me burning the midnight oil.
24 Hours is told in the first person which gives the story immediacy and a connection with the narrator, Laurie Smith. The structure, however, is unusual because it is written with alternate chapters, labelled ‘Now’ and ‘Then’. To begin with I liked the ‘Then’ chapters much more than the ‘Now’ ones which seemed to consist of Laurie running from some unknown danger which is difficult to identify, and I was unsure whether this danger to her and her absent child was real, or simply in her mind. Whereas the ‘Then’ chapters were back story leading up to the events that set her running.
The story starts with Laurie’s escape from a hotel fire in which her best friend dies. Laurie is convinced the fire was intended to kill her, and that the killer is still after her. Throughout the book, the chapters flip between the present and the past with a building sense of paranoia, as well as an understanding of the trauma she experienced during her marriage to Sid. But as the reader gets to know more about her past, suspicions increase, and it is not until the final pages we find out whether Laurie’s fears are justified, and if so who is she in danger from, or whether this is all in her mind. And I’m not going to tell you. Suffice to say, I didn’t see the twist coming at the end.
This was a good read, and once I got used to the structure, I really enjoyed it.
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