Both of You by Adele Parks: A series of jaw-dropping twists - book review -

When two women from very different worlds disappear without a trace from their homes and husbands, it seems they are simply two of the 180,000 people reported missing every year in the UK.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 4th June 2021, 3:45 pm
Both of You
Both of You

But one detective has a gut feeling that the cases might be linked… and she is determined to keep on digging until she discovers the truth.

Adele Parks, the writing phenomenon who now has twenty-one superb novels to her name in as many years, proves that she deserves every accolade which comes her way with this gripping and brilliantly observed exploration of the corrosive secrets that lie behind not just closed doors but the relationships that are the bedrock of family life.

Parks, who has been an ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa Book Awards, sweeps us into the lives – past and present – of two women and two marriages, and into the hearts of their authentically portrayed domestic domains.

As the mystery deepens, the tension ratchets up, and as we learn more about the women’s husbands, families, stepchildren and friends, the pace of the story accelerates into an explosion of toxic relationships, unsettling revelations, and deliciously dark twists and turns.

Leigh Fletcher is happily married to landscape gardener Mark and stepmother to 12-year-old Seb and 15-year-old Oli. Their mother died from cancer eleven years ago and Leigh, who has brought them up during their formative years, thinks of them as ‘her boys’ now.

But she is also aware that there is ‘an imbalance’ in her relationship with Seb and Oli, and it has been impossible to ignore that imbalance since Oli, in particular, hit the teenage years and started making her feel unwanted and more like the boys’ ‘almost-mother.’

And then Leigh, who works away all week as a management consultant to a wind energy company in Edinburgh, fails to return to their home in London. Mark tells the police he knows nothing of her whereabouts. Leigh went to work as usual in Scotland but never came back. Their family is shattered, he says.

Meanwhile, Kai Janssen, who is married to wealthy Dutch City businessman, Daan, vanishes the same week. Kai left their luxurious London penthouse and glamorous world to make her regular trip to the North East to visit her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s but then seemingly evaporated into thin air. Daan is distraught.

Kai’s educational and social background is very ordinary but she has one outstanding feature… her beauty, the ‘something’ she can rely on to ‘bring to the table’ when she and handsome Daan are entertaining their friends… friends garnered from London’s ‘top one per cent.’

Investigating both cases is DC Clements who knows that people disappear all the time… someone is reported missing every ninety seconds. Most run away from things, some run towards them, others are taken but find their way back. A sad few never return.

Leigh and Kai are from very different spheres, and their disappearances are unlikely to be connected. But Clements believes they might be. How could these women walk away from their families, husbands and homes willingly? Clements is determined to unearth the truth, no matter how shocking and devastating it may be.

Both of You is a deeply fascinating and entertaining story, one that grips from the disturbing opener and is a classic example of this astute author’s forensic eye for the complexity of relationships… how they are formed, the turbulence that threatens them, and the compromises and concessions required to keep them alive.

The dark mystery centred on the whereabouts of the two women pulses through every page and with revelatory flashbacks and several narrative perspectives adding an extra layer of intrigue, this is domestic noir powered by a breathtaking psychological intensity.

With each character drawn to perfection, a plot that peers into the murky corners of family life, and a series of jaw-dropping twists which end with a final shocking revelation, Parks’ sizzling page-turner is as clever as it is utterly addictive.

(HQ, hardback, £14.99)