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If They Knew: The crime thriller that you need to read in 2018

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I know who you are. I’ve come to pay you back. Nobody in Barbara Marsden’s family knows about her past, least of all her daughter Helen. When she is diagnosed with cancer, her secrets are no longer safe. Someone wants the truth to come out. Desperate to keep her mother safe Helen will stop at nothing to uncover the truth of her past, but the consequences might hurt her own f I know who you are. I’ve come to pay you back. Nobody in Barbara Marsden’s family knows about her past, least of all her daughter Helen. When she is diagnosed with cancer, her secrets are no longer safe. Someone wants the truth to come out. Desperate to keep her mother safe Helen will stop at nothing to uncover the truth of her past, but the consequences might hurt her own fractured family and put Barbara at risk… What really happened all those years ago? And who is going to end up paying the price? A gripping family drama where love and betrayal go hand in hand, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Kerry Fisher and Adele Parks.


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I know who you are. I’ve come to pay you back. Nobody in Barbara Marsden’s family knows about her past, least of all her daughter Helen. When she is diagnosed with cancer, her secrets are no longer safe. Someone wants the truth to come out. Desperate to keep her mother safe Helen will stop at nothing to uncover the truth of her past, but the consequences might hurt her own f I know who you are. I’ve come to pay you back. Nobody in Barbara Marsden’s family knows about her past, least of all her daughter Helen. When she is diagnosed with cancer, her secrets are no longer safe. Someone wants the truth to come out. Desperate to keep her mother safe Helen will stop at nothing to uncover the truth of her past, but the consequences might hurt her own fractured family and put Barbara at risk… What really happened all those years ago? And who is going to end up paying the price? A gripping family drama where love and betrayal go hand in hand, perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Kerry Fisher and Adele Parks.

30 review for If They Knew: The crime thriller that you need to read in 2018

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Well, i've come to accept now that finding an original story in the crime genre is like finding a needle in a haystack, and this one is no different. Another addition to the "You don't know your mother as well as you think you do" collection, which admittedly doesn't have as many subscribers as some of the other crime fiction tropes, and it did have some spark and energy to it which I very much enjoyed. The plot itself is of the slow-burn variety and is well thought out. I also found the writing Well, i've come to accept now that finding an original story in the crime genre is like finding a needle in a haystack, and this one is no different. Another addition to the "You don't know your mother as well as you think you do" collection, which admittedly doesn't have as many subscribers as some of the other crime fiction tropes, and it did have some spark and energy to it which I very much enjoyed. The plot itself is of the slow-burn variety and is well thought out. I also found the writing easy to live with and ultimately compelling. There was certainly some suspenseful and unpredictable moments throughout the duration, and you never quite knew who to trust or what would happen next. Although the overarching concept, reveal and slow unfurling of the characters lives was similar to many other thrillers i've had the pleasure to read recently, it does have a unique and unusual way of telling the tale. It is written from multiple perspectives and shifts between various people including mother, Barbara, and daughter, Helen. It also features a dual timeline - one of the present and the second of the past. These shifts can often lead to a convoluted story and confuse the reader, but I genuinely felt that it worked very well here, with no obvious drawbacks. The characters are written in such a way that you feel sympathy for both of their situations, and the author creates an atmospheric and beautifully written novel that pulled me in right from the very beginning, despite it being a steady start it terms of pace. Her attention to detail deserves a special mention. I particularly appreciated the parts about how the law has evolved over time, and that what used to be acceptable perhaps no longer is, this definitely appealed to me being a law graduate myself. Sefton can definitely be trusted with the legal points in the book, seeing she's a working barrister as well as a mother and a writer (how does she fit it all in?!). An accomplished debut - I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. Many thanks to Avon for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    When Helen finds out her mother Barbara has cancer, life takes on an unexpected twist. She realises her mother’s whole life has been a lie and now her whole family has been threatened. Who is sending Barbara threatening notes!! This book did have me gripped and I loved how the different timelines slowly revealed the truth. If this is Joanne Sefton’s debut novel then I cannot wait for her next book. Thank you to Netgalley for a copy in exchange for a review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    I gave up on this book about 25% in. I was bored and I felt like I had read it all before. It was not what I was expecting at all. I see that there are so many glowing reviews so I know that I am in the minority. I may pick this one up again down the track and give it another go but at the moment it just isn't for me. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. I gave up on this book about 25% in. I was bored and I felt like I had read it all before. It was not what I was expecting at all. I see that there are so many glowing reviews so I know that I am in the minority. I may pick this one up again down the track and give it another go but at the moment it just isn't for me. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The story alternates between a few of the characters as well as past and present. It would have been good to have had some sort of header as to whether it was past or present as it did throw me a couple of times and had to go back and re read when I realised we were back in the past. Saying that though it didn’t take me to long to settle into the story. Helen I felt sorry for. Her husband has just left her and she receives some bad news about her mum. On returning to the family home she then make The story alternates between a few of the characters as well as past and present. It would have been good to have had some sort of header as to whether it was past or present as it did throw me a couple of times and had to go back and re read when I realised we were back in the past. Saying that though it didn’t take me to long to settle into the story. Helen I felt sorry for. Her husband has just left her and she receives some bad news about her mum. On returning to the family home she then makes the shocking discovery of some sinister notes addressed to her mum. Asking her mum about them doesn’t seem to shed anymore light onto it. It’s obvious that Barbara is hiding something from her past. Like her daughter, I wanted to find out more. This is one of those stories where the author gives nothing away before she is ready to and feeds us little snippets along the way which makes putting this book down quite hard as the more I discovered, the more I had to read on until everything is revealed. The Mother’s Lies makes you question just how well you truly know your parents. Who doesn’t love a story packed full of secrets and lies? I know I sure do. This one certainly makes for a compelling one and kept me hooked throughout.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mary Thomas

    Thanks to Netgalley for my copy.3.5* This is a book told in alternating time-lines. Barbara has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving threatening notes which she keeps secret from her husband and daughter. Helen the daughter finds one of the cards at her parents home and wonders who and why would someone threaten her mother. This book showed how the law and it is perceived has changed dramatically over the years.What was overlooked and never spoken about is now thankfully out in the open and Thanks to Netgalley for my copy.3.5* This is a book told in alternating time-lines. Barbara has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving threatening notes which she keeps secret from her husband and daughter. Helen the daughter finds one of the cards at her parents home and wonders who and why would someone threaten her mother. This book showed how the law and it is perceived has changed dramatically over the years.What was overlooked and never spoken about is now thankfully out in the open and is rightfully prosecuted. Without giving too much of the plot away the crime that was committed in the past would be investigated totally differently in present day. The trouble I had with this book was the characters of Barbara and her husband Neil. Neil had his head completely buried in the sand regarding his wife and knew very little of her past or any of her family. He never questioned her or regarded her indifference as anything but normal. Barbara herself just came across as downright cold and her behaviour towards her daughter, son-in-law and grandchild was just cruel and calculated. I don't know how a mother could act like that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shalini

    This book barely escaped being a DNF by the skin of its teeth... Whew!! A thriller of secrets which didn't thrill or entice me. I love a book which has secrets hidden in its pages, but the writing here was so s. l. o. w., that everything in the world including painted my nails distracted me away from it. The story goes thus, Helen is going through a separation, her mum Barbara is diagnosed with breast cancer. She comes down for surgery, has an overdose of medications, and soon after, Helen's child This book barely escaped being a DNF by the skin of its teeth... Whew!! A thriller of secrets which didn't thrill or entice me. I love a book which has secrets hidden in its pages, but the writing here was so s. l. o. w., that everything in the world including painted my nails distracted me away from it. The story goes thus, Helen is going through a separation, her mum Barbara is diagnosed with breast cancer. She comes down for surgery, has an overdose of medications, and soon after, Helen's child Barney is kidnapped. The story was told in many different timelines and with different POVs at a pace slower than a snail. (It had me banging my head on the kindle, gently!!) Not a good sign at all. Barbara's husband Neil was the ostrich, buried his head in the sand, not ever wondering about her past. Aaaghhh!! My first book by Joanne Sefton, and instead of me feeling all the emotions of the book, the book, for the first time, felt my varied emotions: excited, bewildered, bored, I dozed holding the kindle, perked up for the last 20% then disillusioned and resigned. The premise was good, but the pace slow, the characters unlikable, the dampened plot reveal, followed by The End. My biggest niggle was not any of the above factors, it was - I was told main character Helen was a good mom. I didn't ever feel that, there were no such scenes show. She was more overwhelmed with everything.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donna Maguire

    https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I enjoyed this story and thought that it had a set of well developed characters and I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction that they had, it really helped to strengthen the plotline. I enjoyed the location for the book and the writing style is great, it really brings the story to life. Sadly for me this isn’t really a unique story and there was nothing in the book that made this one stand out from the others available in the same genre. Don’t get me wrong, it https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/... I enjoyed this story and thought that it had a set of well developed characters and I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction that they had, it really helped to strengthen the plotline. I enjoyed the location for the book and the writing style is great, it really brings the story to life. Sadly for me this isn’t really a unique story and there was nothing in the book that made this one stand out from the others available in the same genre. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good story but I feel that the genre has become a little bit saturated with books having very similar plots and it did make this one a little predictable. 3.5 stars from me for this one rounded up to 4 stars for Amazon and Goodreads!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cassie’s Reviews

    This was an ok read for me it didn’t grab me and I felt it was a little slow paced. It had some twists and turns. This book is told from several perspectives. Helen received a phone call from her father informing her that her mother has breast cancer. This adds more stress to Helen she’s going through a divorce so she grabs her two children and head to her childhood home to be there for her mother and father. Helen so discovers some letters threatening her mother. Her mother just passes them off This was an ok read for me it didn’t grab me and I felt it was a little slow paced. It had some twists and turns. This book is told from several perspectives. Helen received a phone call from her father informing her that her mother has breast cancer. This adds more stress to Helen she’s going through a divorce so she grabs her two children and head to her childhood home to be there for her mother and father. Helen so discovers some letters threatening her mother. Her mother just passes them off as harmless but Helen is getting the feeling there are more to the letters than what her mother is letting on . Helen so discovers her mother isn’t who she says she is and maybe the past should stay in the past.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is Joanne Sefton’s debut novel and bloody hell what a debut it is. I love discovering new authors and so it was with some excitement that I dived in as soon as I could get hold of a copy. I blinking well loved it but more about that in a bit. I have to say that I took to Helen’s character from the start and I really felt for her. She is the mother of two children, whose husband has recently walked out on her for a younger model- literally. So the poor woman has this to cope with and then she This is Joanne Sefton’s debut novel and bloody hell what a debut it is. I love discovering new authors and so it was with some excitement that I dived in as soon as I could get hold of a copy. I blinking well loved it but more about that in a bit. I have to say that I took to Helen’s character from the start and I really felt for her. She is the mother of two children, whose husband has recently walked out on her for a younger model- literally. So the poor woman has this to cope with and then she is dealt a hammer blow with news about her mother’s health that knocks her for six. I began to wonder how much crap could one woman deal with at once? Helen is one tough cookie but then she has had to be. She is determined and feisty. Helen has not had a very close relationship with her mother, Barbara over the years and Helen seems to be much closer to her father, Neil. By the sounds of it, Barbara has maintained an emotional distance from Helen. She isn’t really an emotive parent and she isn’t really somebody who shows their emotions in a physical way – i.e: by giving her daughter a hug. Barbara freely admits that she isn’t a woman, who likes babies and she prefers children when they are a bit older. Unsurprisingly following the news about her mother, Helen darts off up the motorway with her children to provide comfort and support for her mother. It soon emerges that something is amiss. Helen finds a letter on the doormat addressed to Barbara and it isn’t particularly pleasant. Barbara refuses to discuss it at first but Helen is persistent and bit by bit she tries to find out the truth. What does Helen discover? Is Barbara telling Helen everything? What really did happen in the past? Well for the answers to those questions and more you are just going to have to read the book for yourselves to find out as I am not going to tell you. This book is brilliantly written. Chapters are written detailing events that happened over various points in time. The story does jump from past to present to past and back again. I thought that I might find that a bit confusing but I didn’t. The different chapters from different periods in time interlink really well and the story flows seamlessly as a result. The author’s writing style is such that you can’t fail to be drawn into the story from the first word on the first page and you soon become addicted to reading the book. At least that’s what happened to me. The story starts in such a way that I haven’t come across many times before and for that reason ‘If They Knew’ will stay with me for a long time to come. As soon as I picked the book up I was hooked and I just had to keep reading to see how the past events knitted together and what had really happened all those years ago. I felt as though I was snooping into other people’s lives but then I enjoyed that being as I am a Nebby Nora (nosy parker). The more I got into the story, the more I wanted to read and the quicker the pages turned. I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t notice how quickly I was getting through the book. I usually have the attention span of a gnat but not in this case because the storylines intrigued me so much that I was able to focus solely on the book and shut out all other distractions. Reading ‘If They Knew’ is much like being on a scary and sometimes unpredictable rollercoaster ride with lots of twists and turns. At times something would happen in the book that I wasn’t expecting to happen and I was left feeling as though I had been punched in the gut. In conclusion it’s fair to say that I absolutely, totally and utterly loved reading ‘If They Knew’ and I would definitely recommend it to other readers. This is a brilliant novel and I can’t wait to see what Joanne comes up with next. Here’s hoping that we don’t have too long to wait. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a well deserved 5* out of 5*.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    There were so many really good parts of this book that I really liked but there were a few I really didn't like (which I won't talk about because they would be spoilers). And, funny thing, I was happy and unhappy about some of the same things! Now, that is the mark of a crazy turned around story! I loved that the center of the mystery is an older woman. Nice to see that these books are being more inclusive. I will admit to getting a bit confused with the multiple characters in multiple timelines There were so many really good parts of this book that I really liked but there were a few I really didn't like (which I won't talk about because they would be spoilers). And, funny thing, I was happy and unhappy about some of the same things! Now, that is the mark of a crazy turned around story! I loved that the center of the mystery is an older woman. Nice to see that these books are being more inclusive. I will admit to getting a bit confused with the multiple characters in multiple timelines. But, in Ms. Sefton's defense, I am not sure how else she could have done it while still developing the characters so well and getting the reader invested. Thankfully after a few times in each timeline I was able to set on the characters and bounce back and forth. This was definitely a book that held my interest until the end! I believe this is Ms. Sefton's first book. I will be on the look out for more. A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and Avon Books UK in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    Date night is near with Darren and Helen enjoying life. That's until some weird as shite notes threaten their very existance. Barbara receives one asking if Neil knows from a young lady named Jennifer. Helen's mom is Barbara and her father is Neil. As this is being dealt with we also have Barney the grandson who goes MIA and possibly targeted with a payoff of 30 shillings in the works. Katy Cleary has been arrested for manslaughter at the ripe age of 14 yo of a young girl named Mary Gardiner. What wou Date night is near with Darren and Helen enjoying life. That's until some weird as shite notes threaten their very existance. Barbara receives one asking if Neil knows from a young lady named Jennifer. Helen's mom is Barbara and her father is Neil. As this is being dealt with we also have Barney the grandson who goes MIA and possibly targeted with a payoff of 30 shillings in the works. Katy Cleary has been arrested for manslaughter at the ripe age of 14 yo of a young girl named Mary Gardiner. What would possess a young girl to commit such an atrocious act upon another young girl? Operation Denim is well under way in full swing with kid porn under floors and so much more. Who is our suspect, who is our accomplice, who is in need of some major psych treatment? You'll just have to read this one, it's a true thriller. Thank you Joanne Sefton, her publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Myreadbooks

    I would like to thank AVON Publishing, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd and Netgalley for this partnership. I was immediately tempted by the summary and cover that made me want to read this book. We find Barbara who knows nothing about her past, much less her daughter Helen. When she is diagnosed with cancer, her hidden secrets are no longer safe. His daughter Helen wants to protect her mother even if it means not backing down from anything, but this can put both of them in danger. What I would like to thank AVON Publishing, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd and Netgalley for this partnership. I was immediately tempted by the summary and cover that made me want to read this book. We find Barbara who knows nothing about her past, much less her daughter Helen. When she is diagnosed with cancer, her hidden secrets are no longer safe. His daughter Helen wants to protect her mother even if it means not backing down from anything, but this can put both of them in danger. What happened a few years ago and who will pay the high price? A book read in one go, I immediately hooked on the characters and found the story captivating, moving and full of suspense and twists.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie Parks

    A truly tricky plot. Makes you squint and even double read passages to make sure it's really there - yes, it can be that crazy, you didn't imagine it. Engaging and surreal at times! Thank you Avon Books for the chance to get lost in Joanne Sefton's carefully crafted world in exchange for my honest review. A truly tricky plot. Makes you squint and even double read passages to make sure it's really there - yes, it can be that crazy, you didn't imagine it. Engaging and surreal at times! Thank you Avon Books for the chance to get lost in Joanne Sefton's carefully crafted world in exchange for my honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aleasha

    Not a thriller by any means.. I was struggling to finish this book. So many timelines that moved at a snails pace. Not my idea of a mystery/ thriller. Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vickie

    Over fifty years ago a butterfly had flapped its wings; now there was a hurricane to be reaped. ~ Full review to be posted ~

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Mitchell

    An enjoyable, page-turning read with an unexpected twist. The narrative from multiple viewpoints really worked, and I particularly liked the way Katy’s story is told in reverse. I’m looking forward to reading more by this talented writer.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa In The City

    I was pretty engrossed in the beginning but my interest waned out as the story dragged on. Too many timelines and POVs and just too slow. It flip flopped from 1953 to 2017 to 1967 and in no particular order. I held on hoping for something shocking or thrilling, but it never happened. Thank you to #Netgalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Barbara Kipling is a mystery To her daughter,Helen To her Husband To her work colleagues Who knows the real Barbara? No one..... Except Barbara She knows her past, the lies, the abuse, the crimes, where she went, what she did or didnt do and who with....Barbara has had many years to plot her revenge Barbara is a woman with a mission and a small matter of a diagnosis of cancer wont stop her, it will make her more determined that people will pay...... An effortless psychological thriller here that went ba Barbara Kipling is a mystery To her daughter,Helen To her Husband To her work colleagues Who knows the real Barbara? No one..... Except Barbara She knows her past, the lies, the abuse, the crimes, where she went, what she did or didnt do and who with....Barbara has had many years to plot her revenge Barbara is a woman with a mission and a small matter of a diagnosis of cancer wont stop her, it will make her more determined that people will pay...... An effortless psychological thriller here that went back and forth in Barbaras life and had the unusual ( for me ) effect of feeling sorry for her then loathing her the next minute and this changing regularly Add into the mix childhood murders, kidnappings, vile teachers, errant husbands and a cast I DID care about and warmed to quickly and you have one good book! Its tense throughout and it really did keep me guessing but cleverly eased you into the story bit by bit and like the tv programmes where you want the character to find out what the other has been up to and you know they are going to gave great satisfaction when they did!!! A very dark last few chapters as Barbara really went further than most wronged characters would to appease her wrath at injustice A really really good story, easily read, great flow and narrative and a very different outcome to many twist and turns thrillers Loved it 10/10 5 stars!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Renita D'Silva

    Thrilling

  20. 4 out of 5

    Calista Andrechek

    Thank you NetGalley, Joanne Sefton and Avon Books UK for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review. No one in Barbara’s family has any idea about her family or her past, but when she’s diagnosed with cancer her secrets are no longer safe from her daughter Helen. Someone wants everyone to know who Barbara is and what she has done. Helen will stop at nothing to protect her mother and find out who is trying to hurt her and her family, but in doing so, is Helen putting her own family at risk? I Thank you NetGalley, Joanne Sefton and Avon Books UK for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review. No one in Barbara’s family has any idea about her family or her past, but when she’s diagnosed with cancer her secrets are no longer safe from her daughter Helen. Someone wants everyone to know who Barbara is and what she has done. Helen will stop at nothing to protect her mother and find out who is trying to hurt her and her family, but in doing so, is Helen putting her own family at risk? I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this novel and I was pleasantly surprised with the pace of the novel and all the unexpected twists that came along with it. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel, especially Helen. She was easy to relate to getting divorced and trying to find out how to deal with the custody of their two children while dealing with her sick mother. I enjoyed that the main character was the one with nothing to hide, but had to investigate to save the ones she loves. The synopsis on NetGalley didn’t have much information on the novel, and now I’m glad it didn’t because the surprises were just that, surprises. There was just the perfect amount of character development in this novel so that I felt like I knew the characters enough to understand what they were going through without being bored. I loved how the novel went back and forth between today and the past of a character named Katy. I also loved that the past wasn’t always in order so that you had to put the pieces together yourself without having it all handed right to you. The ending shocked me, but in such a good way! There were so many twists at the ending that I didn’t see coming and I loved the way the author fit them in and made them so shocking. Pick it up September 3rd!

  21. 5 out of 5

    peggy

    Barbara Marsden has a very secret past. No one in her family knows the truth, not even her husband. Barbara has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Helen her daughter has her own troubles. Her husband and father of their two children left the maritial home six weeks ago and she is still trying to come to terms with being on her own. Helen receives the news about her mother and at first she is shocked then she is galvanised into action. Packing clothes,toys and books she bundles her children into t Barbara Marsden has a very secret past. No one in her family knows the truth, not even her husband. Barbara has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Helen her daughter has her own troubles. Her husband and father of their two children left the maritial home six weeks ago and she is still trying to come to terms with being on her own. Helen receives the news about her mother and at first she is shocked then she is galvanised into action. Packing clothes,toys and books she bundles her children into the car and sets off to be with her parents. When she walks into her childhood home a card is laying on the doormat. Helen hands the card to her mother and gently hugs her asking she she is? Barbara looks at the card then makes her excuses saying she is feeling tired and needs to lay down. Barbara has her operation and the outcome was as expected and she is in recovery and doing well when she takes a turn for the worse and is rushed to ICU, she has been poisoned but by who and why??? Helen finds the card at home hidden under a pile of magazines and is shocked at the vitriol that has been written. While visiting her mother she asks about the card and gets told to leave it. It is nothing just a shop lifter she had written a story about. Helen is not convinced and begins to delve deeper, she needs to protect her mother. What Helen finds out is unimaginable and just as she is about to confront her mother Helen finds herself in the middle of a personal tragedy . This book was a really good psychological thriller and it shows how much the law has changed and what was and is now acceptable. The story was heart wrenching and emotional. It also goes to show how consuming REVENGE can be and what a person is prepared to do no matter who they hurt in the process.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Smith

    I do love a psychological thriller that is centred around family secrets. Barbara Marsden has a past. She's always been a bit distant with her daughter, Helen, and her husband knows there's something she's keeping from him, but she's built a life for herself and her family and they've always accepted it. Then something happens that means that Barbara's secrets may well come to light and what happens sets off a chain of events that impact heavily on Helen. The first part of the book is more a fami I do love a psychological thriller that is centred around family secrets. Barbara Marsden has a past. She's always been a bit distant with her daughter, Helen, and her husband knows there's something she's keeping from him, but she's built a life for herself and her family and they've always accepted it. Then something happens that means that Barbara's secrets may well come to light and what happens sets off a chain of events that impact heavily on Helen. The first part of the book is more a family drama as Barbara finds out that she is ill. Helen rallies round whilst also dealing with her own marital issues. I must admit that at this point the story wasn't quite what I was expecting (although not in a bad way). However, the second part is where it steps up a gear and those secrets start to be revealed slowly to me as the reader, if not to Barbara's family. The story is mainly set in 2017, but there are chapters that go back in time to various different years. The story in the past isn't told linearly so if you struggle to keep up with having a muddled timeline then this book may not be for you. I, on the other hand, absolutely love a book that throws me around and drip-feeds me the story. It's like putting together a jigsaw. I really liked how the story in the past unfolded and the dawning realisation of what had happened was revealed. The author's bio says she has a slightly bizarre interest in motorway services and indeed, they do appear in this book. Part of the book is set when motorways were starting to be built and it added a really interesting social history element to the story. I thought If They Knew was an accomplished debut novel, with a complex plot and interesting characters and I enjoyed reading it very much.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nicki Southwell

    This gritty story is full of surprises, lies that have been kept for 50 years and a life that has been lived as a with many twists and turns. Barbara and Neil have been happily married for years. Their lives are turned upside down when Barbara is diagnosed with cancer. Reluctantly they tell their daughter Helen what is happening and understandably she wants to be there. Loading her two young children in the car, she heads north to visit. Her own life has been in freefall since husband Darren move This gritty story is full of surprises, lies that have been kept for 50 years and a life that has been lived as a with many twists and turns. Barbara and Neil have been happily married for years. Their lives are turned upside down when Barbara is diagnosed with cancer. Reluctantly they tell their daughter Helen what is happening and understandably she wants to be there. Loading her two young children in the car, she heads north to visit. Her own life has been in freefall since husband Darren moved out to be with another woman. It hasn't been long since it happened, and Helen is feeling raw. Her children, Barney and Alys are aware that their mother is unhappy and has cried many tears. Barbara is admitted to the hospital for surgery and Neil and Helen are on edge. She is very groggy after the operation and spends a lot of time sleeping. When they are told that her condition has worsened, they discover that she has been given the wrong medication for thinning her blood. They manage to stabilise her. Then things go wrong and become complicated. 5-year-old Barney goes missing and the world as they know it crashes down on them. Darren drives up to see them and ends up staying in the house. He and Helen both need to support each other. The results of living a lie are devastating as they are about to find out. I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are all my own and completely unbiased. My thanks to NetGalley for this opportunity.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kookie9200

    I enjoyed the plot of this book, and most of the actual story, but there were things that were problematic. I thought the characters were full and well rounded, each with their flaws and struggles. The actual story was very good. If They Knew is a book about a family whose lives are shattered when a cancer diagnosis brings to light secrets from the mother's past. I liked the slow build of the book, but I did think at times it took a little too long to get to the main part of the narrative. I als I enjoyed the plot of this book, and most of the actual story, but there were things that were problematic. I thought the characters were full and well rounded, each with their flaws and struggles. The actual story was very good. If They Knew is a book about a family whose lives are shattered when a cancer diagnosis brings to light secrets from the mother's past. I liked the slow build of the book, but I did think at times it took a little too long to get to the main part of the narrative. I also liked the different points of view from the characters, as well as the shifts in time. However, the ending was disappointing. I felt it was a little lackluster. The novel, for its length and breadth, felt unresolved, as though it was setting up for a sequel. Still, I would have loved some sense of resolution to this book. The ending is what made me give this book 3 stars instead of 4. I just really wanted the ending to be more than what it was, especially with how fast things happened from the middle of the book on.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paula Stammers

    Barbara has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As a result her daughter, Helen, and her 2 grandchildren move back to the family home to help Barbara’s husband, Neil, take care of her. Mother and daughter, however do not have a normal relationship, as Helen has always felt that Barbara has kept her distance and the love and affection has always come from her Dad rather than her Mum. Is there a reason for this ? Is everything as it seems ? The story is told from various people’s perspecti Barbara has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As a result her daughter, Helen, and her 2 grandchildren move back to the family home to help Barbara’s husband, Neil, take care of her. Mother and daughter, however do not have a normal relationship, as Helen has always felt that Barbara has kept her distance and the love and affection has always come from her Dad rather than her Mum. Is there a reason for this ? Is everything as it seems ? The story is told from various people’s perspectives and also from various timelines. This can be confusing but I didn’t find that in this book and I genuinely felt that it added to the story. I also have to say that the characters are very well written and I really felt the emotions of various characters and found them very believable. This is quite a slow burner to begin with but rest assured the pace is very much speeded up as you continue in the book and there are plenty of twists to keep you interested. All in all a great psychological thriller. Thank you to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for a digital copy of this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Thank you Avon Books for an e-copy of If They Knew in exchange for an honest review. Available September 3/18, If They Knew is a twisty compelling drama. Another in a line of what if you don't know your mother as well as you think dramas, I did not see where this one was going. The premise and reveal is quite similar to the others, POV shifting between mother, daughter and a few others, and shifting timeframes between the present and the past. When Barbara is diagnosed with breast cancer, newly se Thank you Avon Books for an e-copy of If They Knew in exchange for an honest review. Available September 3/18, If They Knew is a twisty compelling drama. Another in a line of what if you don't know your mother as well as you think dramas, I did not see where this one was going. The premise and reveal is quite similar to the others, POV shifting between mother, daughter and a few others, and shifting timeframes between the present and the past. When Barbara is diagnosed with breast cancer, newly separated Helen packs up her children to help her father and mother cope. While Barbara starts getting ominous sounding anonymous notes, it becomes clear that Helen doesn't know everything about her mother.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    I enjoyed this book, although not as much as I thought I would at the beginning. It lost its way a bit with the main secret being revealed fairly early on (by thriller standards). Up until that point, the premise of the book was great but the suspense and pace tapered off after that. There was a bit of a twist after the reveal to keep me reading and intrigued but I wasn't truly riveted. I expected it to be a bit faster paced, especially with the direction the plot went in towards the end. I did I enjoyed this book, although not as much as I thought I would at the beginning. It lost its way a bit with the main secret being revealed fairly early on (by thriller standards). Up until that point, the premise of the book was great but the suspense and pace tapered off after that. There was a bit of a twist after the reveal to keep me reading and intrigued but I wasn't truly riveted. I expected it to be a bit faster paced, especially with the direction the plot went in towards the end. I did like the timeline swinging between the past and the present, with a few different timescales featured. That added some depth to the characters and the plot. It was a good read but just not quite what I was expecting from the early parts and the promise it had didn't quite follow through.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    If They Knew follows Barbara, the mother with secrets and Helen, the daughter who tries to uncover the secrets. This book goes into flashbacks every other chapter to get clues on the characters history and start to unravel the secrets and where they started and why they stayed hidden. As children grow up and become adults the knowledge that they do not know everything about there parents is discovered. This book takes that to another degree when there is almost another life that the parent is hi If They Knew follows Barbara, the mother with secrets and Helen, the daughter who tries to uncover the secrets. This book goes into flashbacks every other chapter to get clues on the characters history and start to unravel the secrets and where they started and why they stayed hidden. As children grow up and become adults the knowledge that they do not know everything about there parents is discovered. This book takes that to another degree when there is almost another life that the parent is hiding. There is a good pace that keeps the reader guessing, intrigued and not wanting to put it down. Netgalley and Avon Books UK provided a copy of the ARC for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elisa Lodato

    I read this debut novel in no time at all. In fact I chewed it up beside the pool on holiday. Joanne Sefton's style of writing is highly-readable and engaging. The plot is also compelling and submersive and as the novel drew to a close, I found I couldn't put it down. I found the mother-figure, Barbara Kipling (as was), enigmatic and mysterious. She remains in the shadows as her daughter, Helen, struggles to make sense of her mother's past life and the difficulties she now faces in her own marri I read this debut novel in no time at all. In fact I chewed it up beside the pool on holiday. Joanne Sefton's style of writing is highly-readable and engaging. The plot is also compelling and submersive and as the novel drew to a close, I found I couldn't put it down. I found the mother-figure, Barbara Kipling (as was), enigmatic and mysterious. She remains in the shadows as her daughter, Helen, struggles to make sense of her mother's past life and the difficulties she now faces in her own marriage. Thank you to the publisher for the advanced review copy and I look forward to Joanne Sefton's next novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    This is a very suspenseful story with a few twist to keep you flipping the pages. Helen goes to visit her Mother Barbara and Dad when she discovers threatening notes alluding to a criminal past for her mom. She starts looking into the past and discovers some painful deeds that could ruin her life. When her young son is kidnapped it looks like the note writer is serious about revenge. The story line is a little conventional but does enough to keep you involved in the story. This appears to be Joa This is a very suspenseful story with a few twist to keep you flipping the pages. Helen goes to visit her Mother Barbara and Dad when she discovers threatening notes alluding to a criminal past for her mom. She starts looking into the past and discovers some painful deeds that could ruin her life. When her young son is kidnapped it looks like the note writer is serious about revenge. The story line is a little conventional but does enough to keep you involved in the story. This appears to be Joanne Sefton's first novel and it's a good start, I'll look for her in the future. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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