The Accusation by Wendy James

Published: 20th May 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins Australia
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Genre: Crime
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, clad only in ill-fitting pyjamas. Her story of kidnap and escape quickly enthrals the nation: a middle-aged woman with a crazy old mother has held Ellie in a basement, chained her to a bed and given her drinks from an old baby’s sippy cup. But who was this woman and what did she want with Ellie? And what other secrets might she hide?

When the accusation is levelled at local teacher Suzannah Wells, no one seems more bewildered than Suzannah herself … to start with. The preposterous charge becomes manifestly more real as she loses her job and her friends. And the evidence is strong: a dementia-affected mother, a house with a basement, a sippy cup that belonged to her long-dead daughter. And Ellie Canning’s DNA everywhere. As stories about Susannah’s past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt she’s innocent.

And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?

I love James’ writing because she creates these intriguing stories where you think you know where it is going but you’re also not 100% sure. In this case, there is a small part of your brain that wonders how good people are at covering their tracks and putting on a public face, or whether they are truly innocent. This is a great story because there’s arguments for both side and knowing which side is right changes how you look at the evidence presented.

All sorts of scenarios play through your mind: Ellie’s making it up, Suzannah is making it up, they’re both right and a third party is in play, Ellie is framing Suzannah. It’s a fascinating, mind boggling read where you want to know the right answer and find the truth.

James is skilled in making sure any exposition and history of people and places is slowly revealed through dialogue and conversations so readers aren’t inundated with a large amount of exposition. You learn about the characters and their intentions this way as well making the narrative flow naturally and with secrets and intentions remaining well hidden.

Mystery aside, I felt that the relationship between Chip and Suzannah was rushed. They both dive into their relationship quickly and is gets serious almost right away. It felt strange seeing them get close so fast but it isn’t completely unbelievable either.

Most of the story is told through Suzannah, but there are chapters where Honor has a voice as well. Scattered throughout are pieces of the Documentary that was released after the fact that includes transcripts and interviews which offers additional details and perspectives and demonstrates how wide spread this story goes on to become and how many lives become affected as a result.

With complicated, flawed characters there is a lot to unpack and make sense of. Another reason why this is such a compelling story. There is such a strong case for both sides to be right and you don’t quite know who is telling the truth which is where James’ storytelling brilliance stands out.

You can purchase The Accusation via the following

QBD | BooktopiaDymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: