It takes skill as a writer to give away your book’s ending in its opening pages and still leave your reader hooked. In the prologue to Slack-Tide, the narrator, Elizabeth, recalls first meeting Robert, the man who would become her lover. ‘I was unprepared for what was to come,’ she writes. ‘By midsummer the thing between us was finished, and it was as if a storm had torn the roof from over me.’
Slack-Tide is the third book by Elanor Dymott, a writer who has so far had modest success. Her 2012 debut, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, had an air of the murder mystery about it: a married couple attend an alumni dinner at their old Oxford college, someone is killed and a series of chilling revelations ensues. Slack-Tide is a very different proposition, and in terms of plot, it might sound unremarkable: girl meets boy, they fall madly in love, they break up. Yet this novel has the urgency and readability of a whodunnit, with an emotional intensity that draws you in, mercilessly, and then spits you back out again.
Elizabeth is a writer living in London who, four years ago, left her husband after suffering a miscarriage that irreparably damaged their marriage. Robert, whom she meets on an impromptu blind date, is a handsome, jet-setting American, awkwardly polite, oddly intense. On their first date, Robert asks questions incessantly, insists