I bring you a novel by one of Rosie’s Book Review Team members, who happens to be an extremely gifted author as well. This is not the first of her novels I read and review, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last either.
Where There’s Doubt by Terry Tyler
‘I can be anything you want me to be. Even if you don’t know you want it. Especially if you don’t know you want it.’
Café owner Kate is mentally drained after a tough two years; all she wants from her online chess partner is entertainment on lonely evenings, and maybe a little virtual flirtation.
She is unaware that Nico Lewis is a highly intelligent con artist who, with an intricately spun web of lies about their emotional connection, will soon convince her that he is The One.
Neither does Kate know that his schemes involve women who seek love on dating sites, as well as his small publishing business. A host of excited authors believe Nico is about to make their dreams come true.
Terry Tyler’s twenty-fourth publication is a sinister psychological drama that highlights the dark side of internet dating—and the danger of ignoring the doubts of your subconscious.
About the author:
Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-four books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Where There’s Doubt’, about a romance scammer. Also recently published is ‘Megacity’, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. She is currently at work on a post apocalyptic series, which will probably take the form of three novellas. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 12th-17th century), along with books and documentaries on sociological/cultural/anthropological subject matter. She loves South Park, the sea, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.
I have read several series and single novels (some linked to one of her series) by Terry Tyler, and she’s become one of a group of authors whose next release I automatically add to my TBR list. And no matter what genre she chooses to write in, I’ve never been disappointed yet.
On top of that, I am a fan of books, movies, and series, about con artists, (I even wrote about it in my PhD), so the description of this novel made it sound like the perfect read for me. And yes, it was.
As you can imagine, I cannot describe the plot of the book in too much detail, because among the beauties of heists and con games are the twists, surprises, and trying to guess what comes next, so I’ll keep my peace. The description talks about a couple of the protagonists and two aspects of the business, the romantic con and also the literary con. The romantic con is something most people will be familiar with, as it seems to have existed, in one form or another, for a very long time, but the novel illustrates how much easier things have become nowadays, with the almost universal access to the internet and social media. The literary con will sound very familiar to those of us who are authors or follow and know indie authors, and I thought the combination of both worked really well and allowed Tyler to include some very interesting comments about the current state of the publishing industry. And those who know her work will have the added bonus of recognising some plot descriptions and some locations as well. (But don’t worry, this is a totally independent book, and you don’t need to have read any of the author’s previous books to enjoy this one, although I’m happy to recommend them all).
As you can imagine from the subject, themes such as trust, confidence, honesty, sincerity, love, fraud, hope, caution, betrayal, psychology, manipulation, pretence, friendship, and greed, but also grief, creativity, ageing, fame, small-town society… And a few other things that I won’t mention to avoid giving out too many clues.
For the same reason, I cannot talk too much about the characters. One of the things I most admire about this author is her talent to create both, compelling plots that keep you turning the pages, and characters that grab your attention and whose actions and the reasons behind them will keep you intrigued, irrespective of how much you like them. There were quite a few characters in this novel that I didn’t like very much (if at all, although in some cases this changed, in both directions, as the story progressed), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to know what made them tick. Quite the opposite. This is, partly, because the novel offers us different accounts of the events, most narrated in the first person, where we get to share in the thoughts and the deepest feelings of the characters, both “good” and “bad” (although these notions are far from being totally black and white). Even though most of the narration follows Kate and Nico, they are not the only ones we hear about, and that means we get a good understanding of the complexity of the con, and also of the reasons why such different people get involved, both as victims and as perpetrators.
Readers don’t need to worry about getting confused, as each chapter is narrated from a clearly indicated character’s point of view, and the story is told in chronological order, with the dates also included. Because we are privy to the characters’ thoughts, we also bear witness to their memories and recollections, and that allows us to get some much-welcomed background information. But, Tyler knows very well how to create tension and when to swap and change points of views to avoid revealing too much. She doesn’t use unreliable narrators (if anybody is an unreliable narrator, that is her), although it is fair to say that some of the characters have very limited insight into how they come across or what their real talents are, but most of us have been unintentionally guilty of that at some point.
This novel runs the whole gamut of emotions, and they are beautifully reflected in the writing. We have “perfect” romance (different versions of it, as that is in the eye and the heart of the beholder), we have grief (different versions of it as well), and we have betrayal, hope, selfishness, coldness, fear, desperation… And although there are sad moments, there are also very funny ones, and plenty of surprises (I suspected some, not others). Each character has his/her own personality, and the way their thoughts are expressed fits them perfectly. You can hear and see them in your head as you read. You can imagine their tone of voice and their gestures. And thanks to the brief samples of the novels submitted, you also get a fair idea of what those might be like (and be thankful for not having to read those). The rhythm is perfect, alternating between quiet and introspective moments, and tense and action-filled ones. As I always say, you can check a sample of the book if you want to know if the style of writing would suit your taste, but I don’t dare to share anything, just in case.
There is very little I can say about the ending, evidently. But, it worked beautifully for me. I am not one for perfect, all-tied-up, endings, especially for this kind of book. There are genres that call for a happy (or a scary, or sad) resolution, but with psychological drama, I’ve always felt something should be left to the reader’s imagination, and a little uncertainty is always called for. That doesn’t mean there isn’t closure, and I love the way things work out for most of the people involved (on both sides of the con). This might be a tale of caution, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy complex plots, books told from different points of view, psychological dramas where one gets to delve into the characters’ minds and their motives, to fans of con games and con artists, and to anybody who enjoys good writing, set mostly in the UK, but with some visits to fancy locations as well. Some of the emotions the characters experience can be tough for readers who’ve suffered recent losses or breakups, and although not extreme, excessively explicit, or prominent, there is violence in the novel, so those looking for a cosy mystery should try elsewhere. Otherwise, go for it. If you haven’t read any of Terry Tyler’s books, I’m sure you’ll become a convert, and if you have… what are you waiting for?
There are glad tidings in the author’s note at the end, and I am eagerly awaiting her next series (while checking some of the old ones as well).
Thanks to the author for her book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to share, like, comment, click, and always keep smiling and stay safe!
'My first read by this author, and I would read another of her books in a heartbeat.'
'Ticked all the boxes for me.'
'This was my first book of Tyler’s and I know that I will be adding the rest to my TBR list.'
— Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) May 26, 2022