It is not often that I have to stop and think about a book I am reading. It has taken me five days after finishing the novel to decide how I can best express what I felt and thought about this book. How to Play Dead is an excellent story, something that will leave a deep impression on you.

For a man to read a book that deals with domestic violence, both physical and psychological, it has deeply affected me. I have had to think of my own behaviour and attitudes towards females, and there are times when I have fallen short. I have never resorted to violence, but I am sure there are many of us need to check our behaviour.

Ria Taylor, a mother, a wife and manager of a women’s refuge in Manchester, is the central character. Very likeable, hardworking, giving everything to her family and work life. When her husband has to go overseas for a month, she starts getting sinister messages. She starts to feel she is being watched and stalked.

Tanya, she hates him, but she is to afraid to leave, she knows he would rape her and beat her black and blue. Even at work she is still in fear of him, he takes her wages and gives her nothing at all. She is never given anything sharp, or anything she would like. She has to sleep alone and has no access to the television. When he goes out Tanya is locked in the house, and the shutters are over the windows she cannot escape. Even when she has not seen him in nearly a week and with no food left to survive.

Ria has to manage what is happening at the refuge, and spending bids from the council need preparing. But one of the clients’ husbands is trying to put pressure on the spending review, as to influence not only Ria but give him access to his own wife.

As Ria starts discovering the truth, the world comes crashing down for someone, and can Tanya escape or will she be discovered. Not that anyone will know she is locked in nobody knows she is there. As the stories collide there is a devastating end for a client, and maybe just a happy ending, for someone.

This is a book that will make you stop and think.

Paul Diggett 4/4

How to Play Dead by Jacqueline Ward
Corvus 9781786493798 pbk Nov 2019