I’ve enjoyed both Joanna Cannon’s previous novels, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie. I know that she’s a brilliant writer and so clever at surprising and misleading her readers. Well, this reader anyway! She’s done both again with A Tidy Ending which I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while.
About the book
There’s something not quite right about Linda
Her house is ordinary, even though she doesn’t feel quite at home.
Her husband is ordinary, even if he never notices her.
Her life is ordinary, but that just means Linda doesn’t have to think about what happened before.
Anyway, none of that matters now she has her new best friend Rebecca.
Not even when the murders start.
And Linda still might be able to get the tidy ending she deserves…
Linda has her own very particular way of looking at the world. There’s obviously something which has happened in her past involving her father which has had a profound impact on her life. This is as much a mystery in the book as the mystery of the murders of several young girls in Linda’s neighbourhood, something she’s determined to get to the bottom of. She likes things to be very tidy and organised, just so. She approaches everything very methodically, whether it’s cleaning her house, sorting through donated clothes at the charity shop where she works, solving her beloved crosswords or looking into the recent spate of murders.
“It was like a crossword really, you just needed a bit of time to sort out all the other clues, move them around about until everything made sense.”
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Linda. Her mother constantly puts her down, her husband pays her little attention, she seems to have no real friends and the people she thinks of as friends take advantage of her. Add in the guilt she seems to feel for what’s happened in the past and she’s a rather forlorn character. I didn’t find her particularly likeable at first but I did start to warm to her. Linda, though, isn’t quite what she seems on the surface!
There were a few things I thought I’d worked out about the plot and, in particular, the murderer as the story progressed. Some things I had guessed correctly but others took me completely by surprise. The author had me completely fooled as I discovered by the time I read the clever (tidy) ending! Joanna Cannon has written another smart, compelling and dark novel.
A Tidy Ending is published by The Borough Press and available now in hardback, ebook and audiobook. The paperback version will follow next year. I reviewed my own copy.
About the Author
Joanna Cannon graduated from Leicester Medical School and worked as a hospital doctor, before specialising in psychiatry. Her novels, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, were both Sunday Times bestsellers and Richard and Judy picks. Her new novel, A Tidy Ending, was published in April 2022. She lives in the Peak District with her dog, Lewis.