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What Lies Within

by Tom Vowler

It is mid-winter and a prisoner has escaped from Dartmoor prison. The windswept moor and the prickle of danger set the scene for this haunting novel.

Anna is a ceramicist and lives in an isolated house near the prison with her ostensibly happy family - adoring husband, Robert, and two children. However, their contentment is being insidiously undermined by tensions relating to a terrible moment in Anna's past. The arrival of a stranger on the moor threatens to expose her secret and destabilise her life, or worse. But, despite the ever-present sense of menace, Tom Vowler never lets this psychological drama slip into genre territory. He resists manipulating his reader with the easy clichés of a thriller and if the writing is compelling it is because of the sensitively drawn characters and spine-tingling atmosphere.

Vowler writes with uncanny insight about the torment and lasting damage of sexual assault and, very convincingly, about the corrosive nature of secrets and the loneliness of keeping them from those you love.

WHAT LIES WITHIN is Tom Vowler's first novel. His excellent short story collection, THE METHOD, won the Scott Prize in 2010 and the Edge Hill Readers' Prize in 2011. He is also deputy editor of the Short Fiction short story journal.

Published by Headline, 304pp.

Clare Chandler

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