Review by Sandra Ruttan

Amy Bartlett is a shy nineteen-year-old from Aberdeen, starting university in Dundee. She is also on the road to a serious eating disorder, and her fear of food compounds her shyness: Amy is unable to make friends and avoids social gatherings where she will be tempted by food.

As a result, she’s just the kind of girl who is lonely, and needy enough to start writing to a prisoner. After all, she’s met Jeff’s mother, and she’s a nice lady, and says Jeff didn’t do anything serious, so what’s the harm?

Jeff is one seriously disturbed individual. In prison for almost strangling his ex-girlfriend to death, he’s been able to play the model prisoner while still feeding his own twisted fantasies and, literally, getting away with murder.

What Amy doesn’t know is that Jeff is getting out of prison soon, and he has her address…

This is a book with all the hallmarks to make it my kind of read. It’s dark, disturbing, set in Scotland (one of my favourite places on earth) and Davis has an impressive list of publishing credits, including true crime and fiction.

There is a lot of time spent in character development, and a long time is spent setting the stage for what you know is inevitable. It was a bit of a slow start but once the story clicked for me I couldn’t put it down. Although you feel you know what’s going to happen Davis keeps you guessing about the outcome and throws in some nice twists. This book is not meant to be an action-packed thriller, but it is an intense psychological thriller that builds up to a nail-biting level of suspense that kept me turning the pages late into the night.

I think the reason SOB STORY required a bit of an adjustment was that it was such an intense psychological study. In a way, this book is far more about twisted minds. Amy’s social and eating problems, and her resulting therapy, are well developed. A person could learn as much about what starts some girls down the road to anorexia as they could about what contributes to sexual deviancy through Jeff. The characters are completely believable.

This book could also serve as a commentary on how the criminal justice system is failing to properly identify dangerous offenders who pose a risk to others if released. It underscores the fact that not enough is being done to properly screen these people when they’re sentenced.

Davis doesn’t pull any punches and weaves a convincing tale that is frighteningly believable. Anyone who likes dark psychological thrillers should check out her work – this is an author I definitely want to see more from.


Sandra Ruttan's debut novel, Suspicious Circumstances, was released in January 2007. Her short fiction has appeared in Out of the Gutter, Demolition, Mouth Full of Bullets, Crimespree Magazine, The Cynic and Spinetingler. For more information visit her website.

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