Wednesday 15 November 2023

Review- A Quiet Contagion by Jane Jesmond

A Quiet Contagion by Jane Jesmond
Publisher: Verve Books
Release date: 28 November 2023
Back cover blurb: Six decades. Seven people. One unspeakable secret. 1957. A catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen-year-old Wilf is working for the summer. A catastrophe that needs to be covered up at all costs. 2017. Phiney is shocked by the death of her grandfather, Wilf, who has jumped from a railway bridge at a Coventry station. Journalist Mat Torrington is the only witness. Left with a swarm of unanswered questions, Phiney, Mat and Wilf's wife, Dora, begin their own enquiries into Wilf's death. It is soon clear that these two events, sixty years apart, are connected - and that Wilf is not the only casualty. But what is the link? And can they find out before any more lives are lost? A Quiet Contagion is a powerfully disquieting mystery for modern times, inspired by the 1957 Coventry polio epidemic as well as the more recent global coronavirus pandemic. 

Wilf has lived with illness all of his life, and seems to have dealt with it well. 

Until he hasn't... 

His death from a fall at a Railway station is no accident. 

Except to those around him who cannot believe it could be anything but.

Josephine, otherwise known as Phiney is devastated at the loss of her beloved Grandfather, Wilf. She doesn't believe that he would commit suicide, not when he had so much to live for, despite his health issues stemming from childhood Polio.

But there is one thing bothering her. He was in Coventry on the day of his death, but she didn't know he was going to be there. Why would he not have mentioned it, or come to visit her?

Dora, Wilf's widow is also unaccepting of the explanation for Wilf's death. Her and Phiney haven't always seen eye to eye, but on this subject they agree that the truth must be uncovered.

Wilf's death was witnessed by one person, a local journalist Mat. He is sympathetic to a point. But he knows what he saw, and he knows how to sniff out a story. Meaning he doesn't seem immediately trustworthy to either Phiney or Dora.

When Phiney comes across an old photograph in her Grandfather's shed, she wonders if it holds any clues as to why he was in Coventry on the day of his death. She decides to try and track down the others from that time.

When she finds out that one of them has recently passed away, her interest is immediately heightened. His death isn't being treated as suspicious, but Phiney isn't sure that it's not connected to her Grandfather's in some way. 

But what could it possibly have to do with an old photograph?

I did feel like I had to wait until quite late on in the book to find out and tie up a lot of ends, but the air of mystery kind of added to the story from my perspective. This is a unique type of crime thriller, which I really enjoyed. 

A Quite Contagion is available to pre-order now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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