Random House Australia, Arrow Books, October 2006
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
Eighteen years ago Justine Fraser was on the verge of marrying Nicky
Bennet. She and Nicky had first met when she was on a three month exchange
at Lowell University in New Hampshire. He quickly became the love of her
life. Justine was a literature exchange student from England. After her
exchange Nicky and Justine lost touch until he turned up two years later
in England, proposing marriage within hours. Then eleven days later he
Now the newspapers are announcing that Nicky Bennet, film megastar, has
disappeared. Justine, leading a very quiet life working in a bookshop in a
seaside English town, immediately knows she has go to America to find out
what has happened to Nicky.
Justine realises that in fact she knows very little about Nicky, and some
of what she had accepted as fact was actually fiction. Justine's initial
homesickness at Lowell University made her very willing to accept sexual
overtures from Nicky. She made few friends, and readily accepted what
Nicky told her about himself. Now, nearly twenty years later, she is still
convinced that what they had was true love. Her attempts to trace Nicky in
America reveal another interpretation of their relationship.
GRIEVOUS ANGEL is a poignant exploration of a young woman s experience.
Most of the time Justine can see Nicky as a 'pretentious poser' but when
depression strikes, as it does quite often, she sees him as a 'lost
opportunity'. Three years before Justine's American exchange, her older
sister Marie committed suicide, and deep down Justine blames herself. For
much of her life Justine has been depressed and insecure, believing that
first Marie and then Nicky rejected her because of her social ineptitude.
In a sense GRIEVOUS ANGEL is Justine's journey to truth. It did make me
re-think the story of Justine's life and to take another view of her own
understanding of what had happened to her.
GRIEVOUS ANGEL is many-layered, with information about earlier events
revealed through a series of flashbacks. One of the problems for me was
that there were facts revealed early that I didn't fully realise I would
need to know later. This created a sense of deja-vu in the story as
I struggled to work out why I already knew something. At times I did
recognise that I had already learnt this fact, but now I had a better idea
of its significance.
GRIEVOUS ANGEL is not strictly a mystery nor even a thriller, although
there is the mystery of what has happened to Nicky Bennet. I am not sure
what its true genre is, perhaps 'romantic mystery' if there is such a
classification. There is violence, even a murder, but the central theme is
how Justine Fraser has coped with what life has dealt her.
Author Jane Hill is the director of programming for an award-winning group
of commercial radio stations in the U.K., and previously worked as a radio
journalist. She lives in Lincoln, England.
October 2006 Review first published on Murder & Mayhem
All cover art used at Reviewer's Choice Reviews is copyrighted by the
respective publisher. All reviews and articles found at Reviewer's Choice
Reviews are the sole property of the contributor and are copyrighted by