Book Review: White Bodies by Jane Robins

It was more that I was sick with knowing too much. On the day of his death, I’d waited for the police to turn up at my flat or at the bookshop. It was the same on the morning of the postmortem. And now at the funeral, it seemed certain that police officers were waiting for me outside the church, stamping their feet to keep warm, sneaking an illicit cigarette, and that as soon as I stepped out of the gloom into the autumn sun I would hear my name. Callie Farrow? Do you have a minute?

The Farrow twins really couldn’t be more different: Tilda seeks the limelight like a lizard trying to warm itself while Callie takes to the shadows, observing as the world turns. Despite their differences, they still share the unique closeness- that is until Tilda enters into a relationship with the commanding, reticent Felix.

People are drawn to her because she’s so pretty and committed to her talents, and she has that charming way of switching in an instant from dreamlike and ethereal to serious and focused.

When Callie finally meets this man who has so captivated her sister, she notices a change in Tilda that disturbs her. Tilda is subdued, pandering to Felix in a way that is unlike her usually superior sister. Callie begins to question Tilda following a cruel outburst from Felix and what she finds concerns her to the point of fixation.

In the dossier I write: I was shocked to see bruises on Tilda’s arms. Was Felix responsible?– I dont’ know. I can’t work out whether he’s a truly amazing person– organizing surprise holidays and improving her flat– or a deeply dangerous one. Either was, Tilda’s infatuated with him and I’m in pain. I don’t know whether I still feel the elation that came from adoring him, or whether I’m not terrified that I’ve been manipulated.

Motivated by this discovery, Callie joins an online support group for abuse victims and family and friends of the abused where she befriends two women who share her experiences. In a private chat, she is able to bounce her concerns off the group members and slowly feed her growing obsession. Callie becomes determined to unearth Felix’s violent behavior and save her sister. What she discovers in an unexpected blow that throws her world into a tailspin.

With the pacing and plot development of a Tana French novel, White Bodies by Jane Robins is a solid psychological suspense that examines the sibling bond and the ways obsession can be blinding.


A review copy of this title was provided by Touchstone Books.


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