Confession: I very much enjoy a trashy novel. Especially a trashy, slightly unbelievable, thriller. How I Lost You fits that bill entirely and I absolutely loved it. Susan Webster, now Emma Cartwright, has served three years in a psychiatric institute for the murder. She has no memory of the incident, but several independent witnesses verify that she did it. Now, she’s out with a new home and a new identity, with her institute room mate as her only link to her former life.
The book deals, in theory, with themes of privilege of the upper classes, corruption, the flaws justice system, mental illness and the dangers of aggressive masculinity. In theory. I felt like the story was too caught up in the dramatics to ever quite get there. How Susan’s best friend was released from the institute is never explained and the coincidences involved in the major twists in the plot are borderline unbelievable.
But I still really enjoyed reading it. Mainly, I think, for the very-common trick of combining past and present. Emma’s narration is interspersed with flashbacks to the 80s involving a group of lads who don’t quite fit into Emma’s story, except that they do. You just have to see it out.
I found it really enjoyable, although some parts were not for the light hearted. The flashback scenes involve every sort of abuse and degradation of women you could imagine and some sort of trigger warning should probably be mentioned (do books even have trigger warnings? Should they? That’s probably a whole other debate in itself) It’s no Gone Girl or James Patterson novel, but it was worth a read for an easy, satisfyingly wrapped up crime novel.