‘It’s happening again. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do. I see it in the roll of the waves, the way they’re bearing in at a slant. Fast. Restless. I feel it in the nip of the air on my skin, smell it in the rotting leaves and damp earth, hear it in the silence of the watching crows. You’re coming for me again and there’s nothing I can do to stop you’.
Single mother Joanna is struggling; her son, Alfie, was being bullied in London, so the two have relocated to the small seaside town of Flinstead, away from the stresses of city life and closer to Joanna’s mother. The move, however, proves to be difficult for both mother and son, each of whom can’t really seem to make new friends or fit in as seamlessly as they had hoped.
Then, something happens – Joanna hears a disturbing rumour: a child-killer is living among them in their peaceful, seaside town. In a desperate attempt to be accepted by the other local mothers and help Alfie make some new friends, Joanna makes a decision that will change her life forever. Thinking nothing of it, thinking that it is just curious words exchanged between busy mums, she spreads the rumour at the school gates. A decision she will come to deeply regret.
What Joanna doesn’t know is that the rumour isn’t a rumour at all – it’s a fact. In 1969, ten-year old Sally McGowan killed five-year old Robbie Harris. She was imprisoned and served her time, eventually being re-released into the community under an alias. Sally isn’t very happy about the prospect of her true identity being revealed, and decides to take actions into her own hands. What started as an innocent rumour becomes the biggest mistake Joanna has ever made, one that could lead a notorious child-killer straight to her little boy Alfie…
Lesley Kara’s gripping and intense debut novel, The Rumour, is about the destructive power of gossip, and the damage that can be inflicted with words. The small-town setting of the book creates an atmosphere of suspense and suspicion – suddenly, everyone becomes a suspect, no one is who they claim to be, and everything that everyone once knew (or thought they knew) about their community is turned upside down.
It’s wonderful to read yet another book this year that features a strong, single mother, one that explores her experience of motherhood and the challenges she faces. Joanna who cares deeply for her son, is extremely dedicated to him, and her maternal protectiveness is sure to resonate with many readers. Joanna’s emotional journey is deeply moving, with Kara capturing her anxieties and the power of a mother’s unconditional love with stunning and visceral prose.
Alongside the emotional journey, there are many red-herrings and clues to be solved throughout The Rumour, so if you are a fan of books that keep you guessing and have you on the edge of your seat, then this one should certainly be your next read. But be warned, all is not as it seems in the small town of Flinstead, and even the super sleuths among you may be surprised by the ending…
About the author:
Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She completed an English degree and PGCE at Greenwich University, having previously worked as a nurse and a secretary, and then became a lecturer and manager in Further Education. She lives on the North Essex coast.
The Rumour is her first novel.