Book review: The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley
The Wreckage - Robin Morgan-Bentley
Robin Morgan-Bentley presents a different takes on the popular genre of a woman in peril from a dangerous possessive/obsessive man/stalker, bringing a slightly more ambiguous edge to the situation that develops in her debut thriller The Wreckage. The circumstances are unusual too, all starting when a successful dramatist Adam Selby makes an early morning suicide attempt on a motorway. Ben Anderson, a teacher driving down the motorway during a storm on his way to work, is the unfortunate man who hits Adam when he throws himself onto the road.
Ben is obviously distraught, seemingly even more so than Adam's wife Alice. Even though he is told that it wasn't his fault he is weighed down by feelings of guilt, sleeping badly, barely keeping it together. Alice is a more temperamental no-nonsense figure, seeming constantly on edge, she has no time for this and more or less tells Ben so when he visits Adam in hospital. On life-support, suffering permanent brain damage, Adam has no possibility of recovery, so when time comes to look at options, much as she loved her husband, Alice has no hesitation in switching off the life support.
Adam's actual death affects Ben further and Alice too recognises that she needs help to properly deal with what has happened. Both separately enroll in the same mindfulness yoga class, and although Alice is initially cool about Ben being there, she admits to herself that Ben is attractive and recognises that she is now alone with a young child who has no father to look up to. Alice and Ben start texting and both begin to wonder where this is going…
Where indeed? Even though they both have some misgivings, Ben and Alice are nonetheless bound together by what has happened whether they like it or not. But could Alice seriously be considering dating the man who killed her husband? That's got to be wrong…
In addition to this somewhat uncomfortable situation, what is also different about The Wreckage is that it takes in the points of view of both Ben and Alice and since both appear to be quite candid about how they feel, it's not obvious how this is going to develop as a thriller. Or at least they think they are being open, but considering what has happened to both of them, that doesn't preclude them from making some regrettable decisions.
Robin Morgan-Bentley develops realistic responses to an awkward difficult situation and manages to successfully sustain tension and concern for the direction things appear to be heading towards. There's a twist late in the book but it feels half-hearted and unnecessary. Ben and Alice's personalities are so well defined they resist being taken too far along this line however and the novel reasserts a more realistic conclusion that isn't without a suspenseful ending of its own.