Author: Azma Dar
Publisher: Datura Books
- ISBN: 9781915523006
- Published: April 2023
- Pages: 322
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 13/04/2023
- Language: English
There are at least two sides to every truth and somewhere in the middle is what happened. All relationships contain lies, they oil the machinery of compromise, but for a better relationship you want to keep them to little white lies. Things can quickly spiral out of control if you start to hide the fact that you are funnelling money for a secret acting career, or reading your partner’s phone when they are out of the room. You can’t even imagine how bad things can get if you start lying about the real reason your mother-in-law fell down the stairs and didn’t get up again. Relationships can hide a lot of lies and a lot of drama as Azma Dar’s Spider shows.
Sophie says that she is not a complicated woman, but her two ex-husbands would say otherwise. Her current husband does not have as much to say as he has gone missing. Does Sophie know more than she is saying. In her own words, and those of her three husbands, Spider tells one of two stories; a woman’s fight to protect herself and her son, or a woman on the edge of something very sinister.
There are several things to recommend Spider for fans of melodrama and crime. It reads like a good ITV series and even feels plotted out like one. This is aided by Dar’s decision to break down the book into three parts, each representing a different husband. The format then becomes he said, she said as the chapters flip from one character to the other. Sophie writes as though she is a very reasonable person, but when we see her actions through another’s eyes, her actions come across as increasingly worrying.
It would have been tempting for Dar to throw the character if Sophie under the bus and play into the stereotype of a hysterical woman, but this is not the case. Sophie is flighty and has little self-awareness, but she is not mad. You can imagine knowing someone like her or being in a similar relationship. Slowly Dar cranks up the oddness of the character and the book takes a turn.
With a title like Spider, you may think that Sophie is an intellectual praying on weaker men. Two divorces and one missing husband does sound sinister, but this gives her too much credit. There is a naivety to Sophie and her husbands, and some ineptitude. A lot of what happens is not due to being evil but by making poor decisions. If Sophie was a little more rational, then this could easily have been a book about disastrous relationships and lack of communication. Instead, it deals in death.
Spider transports you to a normal British suburb and reveals what happens behind closed doors. This is not a book of masterplans and evil genius, but of mundane lies and half-truths that end up in murder. It feels more real for this, but the choses made by the characters means that it also has a melodramatic feel to it. A fun crime thriller, for people who find murder mysteries fun!
Written on 13th April 2023 by Sam Tyler .