I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis

Mid-life crises…

🙂 🙂

Edward Blake drops his wife Vanessa at the station in the morning, as she is off to visit a friend in London. That evening he returns from work to his empty house, watches some TV and goes to bed. Next morning he discovers his wife’s body in the guest room, murdered. Not surprisingly the police find this story hard to believe, especially when the London friend denies all knowledge of a planned visit, and Edward is arrested. Enter Jessica “Jay” Wells, criminal defence solicitor, who will gradually discover that Vanessa had many secrets, one of which may have got her killed…

An interesting premise and the first 150 pages or so are very good as we gradually discover more about Edward and Vanessa’s marriage, and the possible suspect list grows as some of Vanessa’s secrets are revealed. The writing is good, and while all the characters are terribly middle-class in a trendy liberal sort of way, they’re reasonably well drawn.

And then Jay’s husband says those fateful words – “I have something to tell you” – and suddenly we’re thrust into a marriage teetering on the brink of breakdown, full of guilt and reproaches and tears and shouting and, from me, yawning. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a contemporary heroine in want of a good husband must instead be landed with an unfaithful jerk, and furthermore that her response will almost inevitably be to respond in kind. Ask me how interested I am in middle-aged people having sex – no, on second thoughts, guess. This tedious storyline takes up more space than the murder, overwhelming the entire second half of the book.

(To be fair, the book is in no way graphic and we are rarely taken inside any of the well-used bedrooms, but, oh boy, even when Jay’s not actually doing sex, she spends an awful lot of time thinking about it. Can we please have some professional female characters who are ruled by their heads, not their hormones? Is that too much to ask? If even women writers show women as unable to perform professional roles professionally, what hope is there for us?)

With so much adulterous hanky-panky going on throughout, it is somewhat ironic that the ending should turn out to be quite such an anti-climax – the earth barely trembled for this reader. The enormous length also gives plenty of time for even the least competent armchair ‘tec (i.e., me) to work out the “twist”. I did see that coming!

The thing is there’s a good story in here and, as I said before, the writing is fine. Had the book been cut by about 150-200 pages to remove most of the relationship nonsense it could have been excellent and, without getting into spoiler territory, it would have meant the solution could have been presented in a much more tense and surprising way. As it is, it’s a flabby 500 pages that began to lose my interest about a third of the way in and eventually had me skimming through all the descriptions of Jay’s feelings of betrayal, romantic longings and adolescent lust love. I kept going because I was interested enough to see how it played out but sadly in the end felt it hadn’t really been worth the time invested.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, HarperCollins.

Amazon UK Link

52 thoughts on “I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis

  1. Another one taken for the team! No, this doesn’t appeal to me either, I don’t feel like spending so much time amongst others’ marriage affairs (in all senses of the word!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such a shame she took it down that route – it was shaping up nicely up to that point! I feel any crime writer should think hard if their plot really needs to be 500 pages long – generally speaking it means there’s too much padding!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I think crime novels overall are getting a bit shorter again thankfully, but this one is an exception! Five hundred pages is ridiculous – somebody needs to tell authors we want quality, not quantity! *stomps off, muttering*

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah started this review thinking this sounds great, followed by ‘oh nevermind’ 🤣🤣🤣
    I’ve read one Susan Lewis book before that also kinda shoehorned another plot into it that added nothing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, that was my reaction while reading the book! This was my first Lewis and sadly probably my last. I did think she wrote well but I hate when writers waffle on, especially about the much overused theme of adultery.

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  3. I’m sure I read a book by Susan Lewis years ago, and it had similar issues if I recall. There was an interesting premis about an abduction, but it quickly turned into a dysfunctional family story. I think marketing may be part of the problem here, it should have been put in the domestic fiction section rather than crime or thrillers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was my first of hers and sadly probably my last. It’s a pity, because it started out really well and I enjoyed her writing. But honestly, I wish authors would accept that most middle-aged people are not constantly thinking about sex! Plenty of people are giving it glowing reviews though, so clearly there is a market for this kind of thing.

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  4. I was intrigued by story at the beginning of your review and couldn’t figure out why you only awarded the book two stars, although soon figured it out! Yuck! The only romance featuring middle-aged people that I’ve ever loved was The Bridges of Madison County and that was helped along by Clint Eastwood being the romantic interest in the film! Loved your reference to P&P’s first line 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was a pity because it started out so well! But authors need to realise that most middle-aged women are far too exhausted to cope with a job, a husband *and* a boyfriend! I always have this impression of authors writing for a couple of hours in the morning and then spending the rest of the day with a string of lovers… 😉 Haha, it always works better in films – Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen! But they have other people to do their chores while they keep themselves fresh and beautiful…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I often wonder why writers do this (and editors let it go), FictionFan. The main mystery of the story sounds really promising, and I can see how your interest would be kept. But the whole other plot arc? Why? It just doesn’t seem to add to the story. Nope, I think my TBR is safe from you at the moment… 😉 Oh, and I loved your nod to Austen – brilliant!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I honestly don’t know, though I was astonished to see that this one has hundreds of glowing five-stars on Goodreads so clearly there’s a market for this kind of thing. Not me, though! Followed it up with another one which stuck to the plot and got on with it at a good pace, and what a difference! Haha, Lizzie would be appalled if she read some of what passes for fiction these days… not to mention Darcy! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh dear. I wonder if this is lpart of the issue with many books I’ve seen lately–shoehorning an issue in the book in order to make it more “relevant” to the audience, I agree with Margot–great nod to Pride and Prejudice!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know what she was trying to do – it felt like a cross between “women’s fiction” and crime or something. But 500 pages? That should always be a clue that the editor needs to do more work! Haha, Lizzie and Darcy would have been appalled at how these characters behaved… 😉

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    • It’s becoming a pet peeve of mine. There are plenty of professional males in books who manage to do their jobs, but almost every female lawyer, doctor, or police officer is distracted by romance. Actually I think male writers write better female characters than female writers!

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  7. I laughed at the police finding it hard to believe he didn’t find her body in the guest room until the next morning. That could easily happen at my house! 😂 At 500 pages, I’m surprised you stuck this one out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha, good point! I’m now wondering when I last went into my spare room – there could be six dead bodies in it by now for all I know! I’m surprised I stuck it out too… and kinda sorry I did! I kept hoping it would get better because I’d enjoyed the beginning…

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  8. It’s so annoying as often books are padded out with nonsense nowadays. It’s as if they think we must have our money’s worth via a chunkster – when most readers are probably thinking – this needed an editor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely – I sometimes think they think we’re looking for quantity rather than quality! I don’t know how many reviews I’ve read where the reviewer is complaining about a book being too long, but hardly ever that it’s too short!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When I saw your two stars, I knew I was in for a treat … and I wasn’t disappointed. Gee, when are publishers going to quit haranguing authors to pad their copy, when most readers I suspect prefer a tightly-written, tightly-edited book that says what it should say and ends on time?? And all that sex? Nope, not something I care to read about.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, it was nearly as bitter as one of my one-star reviews, wasn’t it? 😉 I can’t understand why they do it, but then I look at the reviews on Goodreads and see that loads of people have given this five stars, so clearly there must be a market for these padded waffles. Not me, though! Stick to the plot and keep the pace moving! And leave out the middle-aged adultery plotline… most middle-aged women are far too tired to cope with a husband *and* a lover! 😉

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  10. Thank you for taking the hit on this one, am not the very least tempted by it! It’s just too bad that it starts so well and then veers in an unappealing direction. How odd that it has received so many stellar reader ratings; too young to know better?!😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely out of synch with contemporary crime fiction – it happens all the time that I’m heavily critical and then discover the book has thousands of enthusiastic fans! Haha, I think you may be right about the age thing – maybe young readers believe their middle-age will be full of exciting love affairs. Poor things – they’ll learn… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I know – I really enjoyed the set-up and thought it was going to be a winner. And then! I wish authors would learn to stick to the plot in mysteries and leave the relationship hoohah for the steamy romance writers!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I thought I’d noticed that crime novels were getting back to being a reasonable length, but there are still some that seem to think they have to be doorstops! If this one had been 300 pages I reckon it would have been at least twice as good…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad it’s not just me – I’m so tired of adultery in nearly every book. Authors must have far more exciting lives than the majority of us! 😉

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    • You’ll need to start planning your adulterous affair soon – it appears to be an obligatory part of middle-age these days… 😉

      Aghhh! NOT that I’m suggesting you’re middle-aged! 🙊

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so tired of reading about adultery as if it’s a normal part of life! My brother and I actually always joke that we’re middle aged because you never know how long you might live. I’m ok with being labelled middle-aged!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha, I know – if you took fiction as a guide to our societies you’d think no marriage ever survived! Mind you, everyone would either be a murderer or a murder victim too… 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I am admittedly not an expert, never having been married, but it doesn’t seem plausible to me that there is as much adultery in real life as there is in books! Maybe authors move in very different circles to the rest of us?

    And I agree about women in high-profile jobs who seem to be constantly distracted by romance, especially once they are out of their early 20s. I have a colleague in her forties who’s in a new relationship and she seems to be perfectly capable of doing her job competently…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remembering how exhausted I seemed to be through my middle ages, I just don’t understand how people find the energy for affairs on top of everything else!

      I must admit it’s becoming a pet peeve of mine that every professional woman seems ready to mess up her career and reputation by falling for a client/patient/ boss/colleague etc. It’s certainly not representative of the women I worked with! Of course it’s fiction, but still, it would be nice to see a successful, likeable, sensible professional woman occasionally!

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