Author: Ann Turner
Simon & Schuster RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

Lost SwimmerWhat happens to a relationship when trust is removed, lost or betrayed? That is question Ann Turner explores in her debut novel, The Lost Swimmer. Lifting the mask on marriages is a popular theme in contemporary fiction, so what makes this book worth picking up? For starters, it combines thriller and drama, which makes for page-turning tension. In addition, it opens the way for further thought and discussion, allowing the story to linger. For me, these elements make a book worth picking up.

In a matter of weeks, archaeology professor Rebecca Wilding’s life starts to unravel. She suspects her husband, Stephen, of having an affair. Her boss has it in for her. And then she is accused of serious fraud at the university where she works. With an investigation under way, Rebecca and her husband travel to Europe to attend pre-booked conferences; while in Greece, Rebecca does some investigating of her own, hoping to clear her name. At the same time, she hopes this trip will bring her and Stephen closer together, and while they holiday on the Amalfi Coast, it seems this is working. But when Stephen fails to return from a swim, a new wave of allegations is brought against Rebecca.

The Lost Swimmer is a slow-burning novel that carefully unpacks themes of betrayal, trust and forgiveness. The themes are far-reaching in that they don’t just relate to the current events, but to Rebecca’s past. As Rebecca deals with her present, she is also forced to confront her past, ultimately leading to insight and forgiveness on a number of levels. The setting, as much as the characters’ actions, also plays a part in creating tension and raising questions about trust. For example, Rebecca’s home is supposed to be her sanctuary, but a number of events make it less so, such as Stephen’s suspected affair, and a vicious dog v kangaroo attack; in Europe, she is placed in situations where she herself is regarded with suspicion. The theme of drowning also underpins much of the novel: Rebecca’s father drowned, Stephen is presumed drowned, Rebecca fears drowning so never swims but throughout the novel is emotionally drowning – she has to emotionally sink or swim.

Turner adds to the mystery with plenty of red herrings and questions (some of which remain unanswered). Who is behind the fraud? Was Stephen having an affair? If so, who with? Who wants to make Rebecca’s life hell and why? What happened to Stephen? And, since it’s a first-person narrative, how reliable is Rebecca? I did have my suspicions about a particular character early on and it turned out they were spot on … however, the red herrings did have me second guessing at different times.

I enjoyed this book and I’d highly recommend it to those who like character-driven stories about relationships, and stories that keep readers guessing. There’s plenty of mystery, but this comes more so from the characters than the events. I’m looking forward to more from Turner.

Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster Australia.



Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

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