Author: Abigail Osborne
Published: November 2017 by Bloodhound Books
Category: Psychological Thriller, Book Review
Manipulated by fear and love…could you cut the strings and take back control?
Billie’s hiding from the world, believing it to be the only way to take control of her life as she lives in fear of the man who nearly destroyed her. But what she doesn’t realise is that she’s exactly where he wants her; isolated and afraid. A chance meeting with budding journalist Adam sparks a relationship that could free her from the terror that controls her. But will Adam be able to see the real Billie buried under her terror and pain?
The story, set out in three parts, beginning in the present day, followed by flashback chapters from the past, before returning again to the present.
Chapters alternate between Billie’s and Adam’s perspectives, with the occasional diary entry from an anonymous, shadowy figure who obviously knows Billie and is stalking her. This approach defines the characters and their innermost feelings, building the suspense. Billie lives alone, with only her cat for company, avoiding contact with other people as much as possible. Something terrible has happened to her in the past which has had huge repercussions on her life.
Billie stole down the street avoiding all eye contact and people. Once a week, on Sunday, she braved the world to visit the bookstore not far from her flat. One Upon a Time had thousands of books and a quaint little cafe; it was her haven.
Adam is a journalist, determined to expose Billie and exact revenge for the lives he believes she ruined. He seizes his chance when an unexpected opportunity arises and sets about trying to win her confidence, using all his charm to break down the barriers and gain her friendship. It’s an uphill struggle, Billie is very vulnerable and terrified of forming any sort of relationship. Very little information is disclosed about either of their backgrounds at this point in the narrative and the reader is kept in the dark for quite a while, which works well. I wondered what on earth Billie had done to cause such a reaction in Adam.
As he walked towards her, a plan formulated in his mind. His instinct for a story was awakened and he knew he had the opportunity of a lifetime.This could be his ticket to a better career and, more importantly, he could get justice.
Billie suffered through a traumatic childhood with little to no support from her family. The lasting effects are her self-imposed isolation and panic attacks. Young Adam was devastated when he lost his mother. His father was unable to cope, neglected Adam and started drinking heavily. Adam was raised by his uncle, who became the young boy’s role model.
This is a story which revolves around the power of manipulation, how the manipulator controls by either friendliness, fear and/or deviousness, and sometimes leading by example. The debilitating effect on Billie and her conflicting emotions as she becomes closer to Adam are portrayed very well. The middle section of the narrative was less engaging and not quite as believable as the beginning, even as it shows how the chilling unscrupulousness of the manipulator breeds fear and repulsion and the reason for Adam’s fixation on Billie begins to become clear. It picks up again towards the end and I enjoyed how it plays out. The lack of suspects, twists and false leads, means it’s not hard to realise who the antagonist is. The book does convey very well how children can be betrayed by those they should be able to trust implicitly and disturbing subjects are covered without being gratuitous. I’ll be interested to see what the author tackles in her next book.
I chose to read and review The Puppet Master for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy from the author.
Abigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time. Writing The Puppet Master has unleashed a love of writing and Abigail hopes to put her scarily crazy imagination to good use. She is currently working on book 2 and 3 and looks forward to publishing these soon.