Book Review: What You Did

What You Did cover

I hope that everyone is having a good week, and getting weekend
plans solidified, to deal with the monotony of the week.

Things are still going pretty well here, as I can still do
what I like.

As mentioned before a couple of times, I looked through
Amazon this month and found a few titles that I thought I would try out, a
couple of which I got for free.

So far, I have dealt with two of the books I decided to try
and three remain.

Today, I will be reviewing one of those remaining titles,
which is called What You Did by
Claire McGowan.

Allison Morris, an Oxford graduate, lives a pretty normal
life, with kids and a husband, while working at a shelter that helps female
abuse and rape victims and campaigning for women’s rights, making a name for

However, when she and some college buddies get together again
after 25 years, her world is shaken when one of those friends accuses her
husband of rape and old wounds resurface that starts making her question things
and wanting to find out the truth.

While I have strayed away from reading these kinds of books,
thanks to the fact that manga is easier to read and get invested in when there
is tons of noise pollution, I am not as annoyed by them as I am Hollywood
movies, so I thought I would give this a try.

And after reading this, I have to say that I kind of liked
it, though not as much as I would have liked.

From the moment I opened up this book and started reading
through the first few pages, I found myself so engrossed that I did not want to
stop reading for any reason.

One of the most important things in a work of fiction is how
things begin, because the beginning is supposed to help give the audience that temporary
escape they desire, especially since readers read things because they want
something that can entertain them.

While this can be accomplished in many different ways,
depending on the genre and medium used to present it, this story is presented through
prose, I expect to be pulled in by the writing style and things that can help
me draw images in my mind, and make feel invested early on.

In this book, Claire did a fairly good job of that by bringing
me into fairly modern-day UK, instead of the more familiar, at least to me,
England of the times of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and other deceased
famous writers, through both mental images and her writing.

While things were not exactly perfect, thanks to the fact I kept
having a nagging feeling that something was a little off, believing that American
vocabulary and spellings were used, while I noticed English vocabulary and
spelling, which I was expecting from the setting and the way the characters
talked, thanks to having talked to a few people who live in the UK, the way Claire
had written things made me overlook such things after a while, due to be lost
in the world of the story.

If Claire could not bring me into the world of the story, I
would have been pretty disappointed, though not to the extent that I would have
with other writers, because one of the things avid readers like to do is check
out work from other writers, to find something enjoyable, and readers have a
really hard time doing that if they cannot be drawn into the world.

Fortunately, Claire was able to do what many other great
writers can do, and that makes me want to give her some applause for a job well

Hopefully, she can keep this up in her future work, because
that will help attract new readers, and establish herself even more, but I
would not be surprised if she is unable to stand the test of time like Agatha
Christie has.

I also liked how believable the thoughts and actions of the
characters were.

When I got this from Amazon, which was when it was being offered
as a free title for anyone with Amazon Prime, it was categorized as a
psychological suspense, which meant that the thoughts going through the heads
of the characters was supposed to move things along, creating the tension and
other things necessary for a suspense story.

Even though I was a little annoyed with things, like all the
feminist ideas that make me shake my head because it told me that these
characters, and probably Claire, though I am not sure where she stands on
things, are not truly aware of the reality that humans in general are greedy,
apathetic, and irrational creatures, I could understand how they were feeling
and they would be in such turmoil.

For example, when Allison Morris, the woman who made herself
known to the world as a feminist, heard her friend accuse her husband of raping
her, Allison could not really believe the man to chose to spend the rest of her
life with would do the things that he was being accused of, while the world was
calling her a hypocrite because of the claims she had been making prior to that

In our society, we generally want to give people the benefit
of the doubt, especially when the one being accused of wrongdoing or acting
strangely is family member, and when somebody we care about does something or
is accused of something, we want to protect them, even when society has deemed
them guilty.

Because of this, it does not really seem that strange to me
that Allison, somebody that has been established as a person trying to push the
feminist agenda, would feel so conflicted and have so much drive to try and
prove her husband’s innocence to the end, though that does not change the fact
that she got the ridicule that she deserved.

Not only was Allison’s action fairly believable, except for her
moments of stupidity and not really doing what a mother should, but the actions
and thoughts of her friend’s son was pretty believable.

After his mother accused Allison’s husband of rape and a
court hearing was held, Jake, the victim’s son, got it in his head that the man
was guilty and charged upon Allison and her family, supposedly targeting
Allison’s daughter, and stabs the accused man, who stepped in to protect his

As many should know, the stuff I mainly read outside of
manga are works in the detective, mystery, and crime fiction genres, where a
pretty basic understanding of psychology and human behavior is needed to weed
out red herrings from the culprit, as well as a good eye for detail and memory,
and thanks to such works, as well as my own experiences, I am quite familiar
with why I say human beings are irrational creatures, because we can only see
things from our perspective, which can lead us to conclusions that are not
necessarily true.

In such works, there are times when crimes are perpetrated because
characters believe things to be true, rather than knowing it is true, much like
we do in real life.

Here, Jake truly believed that Mike, Allison’s husband,
guilty and tried to take things into his own hands, and even though I was
rather annoyed by it, his actions did make sense with what he was feeling at
the time, and help to add more trouble for the protagonist.

If these kinds of things were not really conveyed well or in
a believable manner, I would have been very disappointed, as the psychological
portion that is expected to be hand in a psychological thriller or suspense
novel would not really be there.

Thankfully, that Claire did make such a mistake, which make
me feel like giving her some more praise.

Hopefully, she will continue to be able to deliver something
like this in her future work, because it does seem like she understands the
important aspect of a psychological work, but I am not really too willing to
check out more of her work at this time.

Thing that I liked the most though was how everything ended.

Other than how things begin, the other thing that is really
important in a work of fiction is how things end, because the ending is
supposed to give the reader either an incentive to continue on, if it is the
first installment or an installment of a series, or a feeling of
satisfaction, if is the a standalone work, like this book.

While I am not entirely thrilled with the end, regardless of
whether one wants to count the epilogue or not, I did walk away with some satisfaction
in the ending, which helped to keep it from being a horrible read, because the
characters all felt like they finally had closure and things were right again
for them.

If Claire did not make sure to end things like she did, I
would have been very angry, because it would have shown that she did not put in
even an ounce of effort into her writing, even though writers in all countries
do put their blood, sweat, and tears into what they create, and it would have
made me even more disappointed that this was one of the two book I chose to get
for free off Amazon this month.

Fortunately, she remembered that a work of fiction needs a
decent ending, and it was enough to give her a passing grade.

Hopefully, her future works will be able to end just as well
as this one did, though I would hope they end a lot whole better, because I do
think Claire does deserve some recognition for being able to write well, but I
am not really convinced that I can see her becoming a great writer.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as what I
already talked about.

Because my interest was captured quickly and held right up
until the end, the actions and thoughts of the characters were believable, and made
things interesting, and the ending was satisfying, this was a fairly decent

Although I liked the book, there are some issues.

However, aside from things are that are too minor to talk
about, like typos, and things that I had already noted, there were only two
things that really bothered me.

First, I kind of felt confused while reading this book.

While reading through this book, things mostly made sense,
because I knew what the characters were talking about, though I was wondering
why some foods were being referred using American vocabulary, seeing as Claire
McGowan is a resident of the UK, there were instances in which I was left
scratching my head, because the text kept saying that CPS has decided to press
charges and I kept wondering why Child Protective Services would bring up
charges for something like rape.

Now, UK visitors may be annoyed by me making such a mistake,
since I have mentioned before that I have read works from writer who lived in
the UK, in addition to American writers, and CPS does not stand for Child
Protective Services, instead standing for The Crown Prosecution Service, which seems
to work similarly to a district attorney in America, but American readers, like
me, will not think of prosecutors, since we are more familiar with the likes of
Scotland Yard and MI6 than what the equivalent of the DA is over there.

America and the UK might be pretty similar today, according
to things I have learned from talking with UK citizens, to the point where we
get books that do not really see any modifications to the texts, at least from
what I have noticed from work published in the UK being brought over here, but
that does not mean that all Americans will be able to equate everything to its
English equivalent.

If the editors and proofreaders were really doing their job,
and Claire were aware that readers on both sides of the Atlantic were likely to
read this, they could have probably made things a little easier by saying that
the crown decided to press charges rather than CPS.

Then again, doing that might have annoyed some English
readers, so I can overlook this a bit, since I know things do not always go by
the same name over in the UK.

Hopefully, Claire and the editors and proofreaders helping
her put out the best work she possibly can make things a little easier for readers
to follow, regardless of whether they live, like Agatha Christire and Arthur
Conan Doyle did when they were alive, but at this point, I think they expect
the main audience to reside in the UK, so I do not expect Claire to gain too
many fans from America.

The other thing that really bothered me though, and was the
thing that annoyed me the most, was that I did not really feel like I just had
to read the book.

Even though I may not necessarily be part of the target
audience, considering that thinks flowed in a way that would be more attractive
to female reader, specifically those that lean left politically, and I did say
earlier that my interest was captured quickly enough to want to read to the
end, those feelings of wanting to read it to the end only existed while I was

While there are people in our society that like reading more
than others, those same readers do not have all the time in the world that they
can read a book in one continuous sitting, which means that there must be
something about the story that makes people want come back and finish as soon
as possible, because that this how invested in a work an avid reader wants to

Sadly, this book failed to provide that, as I had no feeling
that I just had continue reading after I stopped, due to distractions and needing
to take care of necessities.

If I had to say why, it would have to be because the
feelings I expected to get were not qute as strong I as would have liked.

While works that are considered thrillers are expected to
give off certain feelings, which I listed in my review of John Grisham’s The Whistler,
this work is considered a suspense novel, and, as I noted down in my review Trespassing:
A Novel
, the main feeling that fans expect is a stronger sense of
suspense than any of the other emotions.

Now, there were certainly moments where I found myself in
suspense and did want to find out more about what was going on, but I felt more
frustrated by everything going on than on the edge of my seat in suspense, as I
could guess a few things that were going on and knew that without a doubt
things would go a certain way.

Fans of these kinds of works need to be made to keep
guessing and have no idea of what is going to happen or when, because that is
what helps create the feelings of suspense and anxiety, and Claire failed to
meet these expectations completely.

If more work were put in this story, and spent a lot longer
amount of time going through proofreaders and editors, I have doubt that it
could have been a whole lot better, since there would be more than the Claire
wrote things that would make that would have made this a good read.

Unfortunately, Claire and the people helping her get her
story out there seemed not put in enough time, and that make me feel a

Hopefully, Claire can do better when she tries to put out
another work like this, because she will end up at the bottom of the barrel if
cannot meet the expectations of fans of the suspense genre.

Thankfully, those were the only things that bothered me, so
Claire and walk away with the dignity of knowing that she is not a complete

While there were only two things that annoyed me, one of
them was bad enough that it ended up doing some damage, though not quite as
much as if Claire had really done a bad job.

Despite the fact that there were a couple of things that
annoyed me, the good balanced things out enough to make it good enough to kill

I mainly recommend this to female fans of psychological suspense,
as they might like this the most, though the suspense was rather weak.

As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but
I cannot guarantee than too many will be able to find this book to be more than

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on either Patreon or SubscribeStar, or if you would
like a copy of the reviewed title, buy
What You Did
from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many
countries around the world, so that I can find more worthwhile reads for you
guys to check out.

Copyright © 2019 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.