Book Review: The Book Club by C.J. Cooper

Chilled me to the bone, you’ll never question your instincts again!

Lucy believes she has left the drama of her life behind. Cosied up in a cottage in the Cotswolds, she spends her days reading, attempting to garden and trying to fit in with long term locals Rebecca, Maggie and Tom. But all that changes when Alice Darley moves in next door.

Alice has an uneasy air about her, she has a sweet smile that is a bit too convincing, and once friendly dogs turn feral at the sound of her foot steps. From the moment Lucy meets Alice, she knows in her gut that something isn’t quite right about her. We’ve all had that odd first impression of a new face, and most of the time, we’re proved wrong. If we acted on every bad feeling, things may turn out very badly indeed…right?

Lucy, taking this into account, welcomes Alice, who starts a book club for the locals. But what starts as a simple neighbourhood book club becomes something far far sinsister. The Book Club will have you guessing at every page, and even when I was convinced I’d worked out the twists, there was something else to add into the mix.

One of the strongest parts of this novel are the characters themselves. In a lot of thrillers, it is the easy option to have your characters be blissfully unaware of what is going on around them, and that can add to a larger shock at the end. However, C J Cooper’s characters are all smart individuals, and it is their inklings of doubt about Alice, and even each other, that make The Book Club such a page turner, because the reader discovers threads at the same pace as the characters themselves for the most part.

Whilst the story is mainly told from the perspective of Lucy, there is still plenty of time given to Rebecca, Maggie and Tom, and their own personal struggles. At one point Alice is clearly amused by all the drama happening in the small villages, which are meant to be peaceful escapes from the madness of inner city life, and the irony is definitely not lost.

The ending, which I won’t spoil, was just as thrilling as I hoped for, and left me as a reader with some ideas about what is next for specific characters. I loved C J Cooper’s writing style, she poured life into all her characters, so that despite their glaring differences, I felt at the end like I knew each and every one. Alice is an unstable, charismatic villain, and one to remember.

I’d recommend this book to all even if you aren’t used to thrillers. It questions your gut instincts, and makes you question just how well you know your neighbours. The Book Club is a truly gripping read, as it submerges you into the mind of the villain, and doesn’t let go, even when you’re gasping for breath.

5 out of 5 stars

2021 Reading Challenge – Book 11 out of 50.

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