When Sara of Saraband Books pressed this book into my hands at Bloody Scotland and told me she’d thought of me and #Twinnie aka Noelle over at CrimeBookJunkie then I had no choice but to read it! And I’m so glad I did!
Thanks to Anne over at Randomthingsblogtours for inviting me onto the tour.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
The idea is simple, vain, exciting. Tap the app, upload a picture of yourself, find your lookalike. Set up a meeting to see whether you have anything else in common. When Ella and Jem meet, the physical resemblance is uncanny, but their lives couldn’t be more different. One is from a tiny island in a deprived Northern community – pretty much the back of beyond – where she has no job, no boyfriend, limited prospects. The other is a London socialite, an aspiring actress living in a multi million-pound mansion. By all appearances, she’s living a charmed life, but she’s got some serious sh*t to run away from. Both of them have. Can either hide in her double’s skin? And at what cost? Will it solve any of the problems, or merely compound them? This is an all-too-believable, twisty, compelling story that will leave you reeling.
Download an app, upload your photo, and find your double…what could possibly go wrong!
Ella and Jemima do just that and what follows is a chilling experience expertly captured within the pages. Ella seems to be the polar opposite of the flamboyant and confident Jem, from where they live to how they portray themselves, yet they may have more in common than just their looks. As the story unfolds we discover more about their lives and the reasons they might want to escape them.
As a reader I felt immediately drawn to Ella and slightly anxious around Jem. Jem was a little like a loose cannon and you never really know when she is about to explode. And Ella, poor Ella, caught up in a troubled mind I just wanted to reach inside the pages and rescue her.
The scenes with Ella first coming to meet Jem in London were starkly authentic, capturing perfectly the intensity of the city to someone from a small town in Cumbria where the bus drivers know your name; the sense of panic in the underground was fabulous and definitely felt real to me! Ella touched a place in my heart, her struggles with her mental health were written with both sensitivity and authenticity. The relationships with others that were a casualty of her mental health explored as she began to mould herself into her double.
But Jem also provoked a feeling of empathy despite my anxiety at being around her, in the midst of her unpredictability, there was a little girl who despite all her riches had very little stability or warmth in her life. It just goes to prove that other people’s lives aren’t always what we perceive them to be.
Dead Ringer is a fantastic novel to provoke a deep internal musing – just what would it be like to live another version of your life? Littered with moments of dark humour and flawless insight, I found myself inside the head of both girls as their story came tumbling out. It took me to some dark places I had a real sense of unease reading this, like a fear deep in my belly. But at the same time it really did set off a weird chain of thoughts inside my head…whose life would I want to borrow and what would I learn in doing so? And what secrets would I want to hide from the person who borrowed my life?
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About the author:
Nicola Martin studied at the University of East Anglia and the University of California, Berkeley. After many years working as a senior copywriter in the low carbon technology sphere, she is now a freelance writer. Dead Ringer is her first novel.