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Under My Skin by Lisa Unger - book review

Under My Skin by Lisa Unger
Under My Skin by Lisa Unger
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‘I am a ghost in my life.’

Since her husband was brutally murdered a year ago, Poppy Lang’s life has been on a downward spiral… a dangerous mix of sleep deprivation, self-medicating and disturbing nightmares have left her unable to separate dreams from reality.

But what Poppy is sure of is that the man in a black hoodie who is following her through the streets of Manhattan holds the answer to the unsolved killing.

Travel with award-winning American author Lisa Unger – the queen of psychological thrillers – as she takes us on a tension-packed ride with one of this year’s most intriguing and gripping unreliable narrators.

But be warned… nothing is what it seems in this mesmerising maze of mind games which explores the nature of psychological trauma and the complexities of close relationships, turns expectations on their head, and asks questions about our own perception of reality.

It’s been a year since Poppy’s husband, Jack, was beaten to death during his early morning run through Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Together they had built up a successful boutique photographic agency, moved to the smart end of town, and life was good.

In the immediate aftermath of the senseless unsolved murder, Poppy gave in to her grief and shock, disappearing for several days only to turn up confused and dishevelled on the floor of a nightclub, and wearing a tight red dress and strappy high heels that she didn’t recognise.

Poppy ended up in psychiatric care but has never discovered what happened to her during those lost days and, more importantly, what happened to Jack. She has tried desperately to move on – even doing some online dating – but is still haunted by those terrible events.

When life tilts again, Poppy starts having nightmares and blackouts, and with virtually no sleep and her system full of tranquillisers, she is unable to tell the difference between what is real and what she is dreaming or imagining.

When she begins to sense that someone is following her, Poppy is plunged into a game of cat and mouse, determined to unravel the mystery around her husband’s death. But what if the killer is watching her, and her nightmares are actually memories…

Unger delivers a masterclass in suspense thriller writing as we are slowly and inexorably sucked into Poppy’s tortured, drug-dulled thought processes, weaving our way through a dense wall of distorted reality and unsettling flashes of what we think might be shards of truth which could lead to the unmasking of Jack’s murderer.

Along the way is total and utter immersion into a dark and disturbing passage between past and present, grief and enlightenment, despair and hope as Poppy unravels a mystery fizzing with Unger’s trademark intensity and yet remaining deliciously, addictively entertaining.

Ultimately and satisfyingly for readers, all loose ends are tied up, the truth is nailed and the devastating outcome is delivered but this riveting thriller is principally about the journey… don’t miss it!

(HQ, paperback, £7.99)