I picked up Rock Paper Scissors on a rainy Sunday and couldn’t stop reading. Literally. This was a one day read for me; an indication of just how addictive this psychological thriller is! It falls into the domestic noir sub-cat as it explores the secrets and lies of Adam and Amelia’s marriage.
Opening sentence: My husband doesn’t recognise my face.
Set in February 2020 (and in flashbacks) our lead characters are screenwriter, Adam Wright and his wife, Amelia, who works at Battersea Dogs Home. Their marriage has seen better days, so they go on what they think will be a romantic weekend by an isolated Scottish Loch. And this is where things start to unravel for them.
Adam has a rare condition – prosopagnosia, which means he can’t recognise faces. Even his wife’s. Therefore, he works much more on instinct and what’s under the surface to identify people. This is an interesting element to the story and definitely adds to the tension and potential for lies.
You can feel it when someone you love is lying.
When the reclusive – but very successful – author, Henry Winter (I’m wondering if his name is a nod to Vida Winter, a fellow reclusive writer character in Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale) asks Adam to turn his book into a screenplay, he is so happy and his career is looking up, but what he doesn’t know is his wife’s involvement in it all…
A touch of Gothic is always good
I am a big fan of Gothic reads and there were Gothic conventions in play here that I really enjoyed. Primarily the isolated converted church Scottish setting, the sinister-side to the characters and the creepy moments that snuck up and made me shiver.
The book’s title is referring to the classic game – a signature of the characters’ marriage, they use Rock Paper Scissors to make decisions and this flippant handing over to fate also works to add to the tension thrumming through the pages.
Your dreams have always been bigger than mine. But then so are your nightmares.
What I loved about Rock Paper Scissors is that you may think you’ve read a story like this (there are, after all, a lot of psychological thrillers out there that look at twisted marriages) BUT you won’t have read one that feels as perfectly crafted or as satisfying as this.
This is a mixture of the very clever structure, the insightful writing style that commands a speedy pace while never losing depth, the simple but effective plot that will absolutely blindside you in the very best way and characters you won’t second guess – right until the very last page.
This brilliant thriller is being made into a TV show by Netflix and I can totally see why, it will translate to screen wonderfully! Just on my way now to check out Alice Feeney’s back catalogue…
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Get your copy of Rock Paper Scissors here;
- Published by HQ 19th August 2021;
- 304 pages;
- My rating: