Tuesday 16 January 2024

One Last Breath by P. S. Cunliffe | Book Review

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Genre: Psychological thriller 
Publication date: 16th January 2024
Publisher: Embla
My rating: 4/5

A deadly trap. A ticking clock. How long until she has only one last breath?

Jessie wakes to darkness, cold, and the rain beating down on her. She reaches out, and her hands meet hard stone.

Suddenly she knows where she is. Deep in the woods, far underground, at the bottom of the well where her best friend's lifeless body was found fifteen years ago. After returning to her hometown to investigate a new murder, she now finds herself poised to become the killer's next victim.

Jessie gazes up to the circle of night sky above her, the relentless raindrops landing on her face.

She doesn't know how she came to be here, but she knows that, with the storm getting worse, it's only a matter of time before the well begins to fill with water. Can she make it out before it's too late? And what will be waiting for her on the surface if she does?

As soon as I started reading One Last Breath, I was instantly gripped. The novel opens with a woman climbing out of a well, only to be pushed back in.

We soon discover that the woman is thirty-two-year-old Jessie, a true crime documentary maker, whose friend Amy was found dead in the same well back when they were teenagers. Her documentary on Amy's murder ended up getting Amy's boyfriend at the time, Connor, released from prison as it was proven that he did not kill her.

Jessie is now back in her hometown with five-year-old daughter Freya to visit her father. Only there has been another murder. This time of a teenage boy and Jessie is convinced that Evan's death is related to Amy's, even though they are so unalike. Against advice of the police, she starts doing her own investigating which, as we know, does not end well for her.

The story is told in flashbacks of the days counting down to Jessie coming to be in the well, her being in the well and her husband Martin in the early hours of the morning rushing to get to his father-in-law's house. It has bit of mixed media too, with transcripts from some episodes of Jessie's documentary, Born Killer.

There are so many characters in this book and I felt like I trusted none of them, convinced each of them were responsible at different points. The urgency that I want from a thriller is there and it is very clever. There are so gross depictions of injuries that had me grimacing and you really feel the claustrophobia of Jessie being trapped in the well. This is a very entertaining thriller! 

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