Jenn Ashworth has had a short but prestigious literary career. Her debut novel, A KIND OF INTIMACY, won the Betty Trask Award, critical accolades and commercial success. COLD LIGHT, her dark, moody sophomore effort, seems destined to surpass the impact and promise of her first work.
This is the story of three young women in a small English town, one of whom is dead even as the story begins. Laura, who is the main character and narrator, and Chloe are teenage best friends, a pairing that becomes a circle when Chloe brings Emma into the group. It is Laura and Emma who reach adulthood; Chloe, at the tender age of 14, dies in a swimming incident with Mark, her much older boyfriend, in what is officially considered a suicide but is referred to thereafter as “the tragedy.” The prologue begins immediately after Chloe’s death, with Laura and Emma sequestered in their school as the police investigate the tragedy.
"Ashworth already has marked her places as a major literary talent. Comparisons with Tana French are inevitable, and, indeed, the moods that each evoke with their respective works are quite similar, even as they mine somewhat different ends of the same mountain."
The opening chapter begins some 10 years later in 2008. A ceremony marking the event is occurring, with a groundbreaking for a commemorative summerhouse near the pool where the drowning took place. The event itself is marred by a mysterious and grisly discovery, one that resounds and echoes throughout the book. However, Chloe’s death has permanently left its mark upon Laura, who is not right --- not by a long shot. Laura is an invisible, supporting herself by cleaning at a local mall and having all but given up on her life. It is not that her aspirations were all that lofty --- she remembers, with only a twinge of wistfulness, that she had once planned to work as a retail clerk --- but her appearance indicates that she is going through the motions. As bad as she i