How do you know who to trust… when you don’t even know who you are?
You are outside your front door.
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.
She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.
Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.
One of them is lying.
Title: Forget My Name | Author: JS Monroe | Publisher: Head of Zeus | Pages: 346 | ISBN: 9781786698063 | Publication date: 1st October 2018 | Source: ARC .mobi from NetGalley
‘Forget My Name’ is a twisty, turny thriller that kept me gripped to the last page. It’s not perfect, but the denouement is great and the writing style is engaging enough to carry it over the rougher patches.
The premise is one of those simple and immediately attention grabbing ones: a woman turns up on the doorstep of a couple’s house suffering from amnesia but saying she believes she used to live there. They take her in and, when she describe the layout of the house perfectly, they agree to help her regain her memories. As the plot moves on we get to meet other characters in the village the couple live in, all of whom have their own theories about the mystery woman’s background.
The book suffers from having a somewhat muddled second act, sandwiched between a strong opening and a brilliant conclusion. I almost gave up a couple of times during that middle third, when two of the sub-plots failed to engage me fully, but I’m glad I stayed with it. When the story moves into its final act, my perception of the events and characters was flipped on its head in a really pleasing way. I read the last 100 pages in a delighted rush and found the ending very satisfying indeed.
Like many modern thrillers it’s written from multiple viewpoints. We get chapters in the first person from the mystery woman and others in the third person covering the other characters. The style works well here, and I felt like I’d been taken into the confidence of the amnesiac and could empathise with her confusion and desperation.
The plot relies on a couple of huge coincidences. Author JS Monroe mostly kept me convinced, but I did scratch my head and ask “really?” a couple of times. Once I’d got past that doubt and let the story carry me along I forgave them. This was partly because the twist is so good and also because the characters are convincing and sympathetic. Monroe juggles a number of different personalities, but manages to keep them distinct and give them believable and sometimes moving lives.
Despite its occasionally flaws I found ‘Forget My Name’ an enjoyable and compelling read. It has a great concept at its heart, a solid and diverse cast, some fascinating scientific detail on amnesia and alzheimer’s and an unexpectedly chilling and memorable conclusion.