book blogger · Book Review

#PublicationDay #Review – Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote (@lizzieheathcote) @QuercusBooks


A heart-pounding psychological thriller for fans of Disclaimer and Apple Tree Yard.

My husband’s lover. They said her death was a tragic accident. And I believed them . . . until now.

Carmen is happily married to Tom, a successful London lawyer and divorcee with three children. She is content to absorb the stresses of being a stepmother to teenagers and the stain of ‘second wife’. She knows she’ll always live in the shadow of another woman – not Tom’s first wife Jenny, who is resolutely polite and determinedly home-counties, but the lover that ended his first marriage: Zena. Zena who was shockingly beautiful. Zena who drowned swimming late one night.

But Carmen can overlook her husband’s dead mistress . . . until she starts to suspect that he might have been the person who killed her.

What does TWG think?

As soon as I spotted the cover of Undertow, my curiosity level went through the roof. Whose death was an accident? Why is there hair on the cover? What on EARTH does ‘undertow’ mean?
Those were just some of the questions that were going through my mind, even before I had opened the book. Questions which could only get answered by paying close attention to the storyline and the information it held. But, as soon as the story began, I ended up with even more questions than I started with and I couldn’t wait to see how the storyline was going to unfold.

Carmen was a tough character to warm to, yet she exuded a lot of warmth to those around her. It just wasn’t a vibe that lingered with her once she was on her own, and of course I wondered why. Did she feel as though she had to prove herself when it came to ex-wife, Jenny, and dead ex-girlfriend, Zena?

The further I got into the book, the more unsettled I became. I knew something wasn’t right, yet I had no idea what. There were signs, little pieces of information which were a long way off from being complete. Red herrings perhaps? For me, yes. However, due to the additional vibes from Carmen as the book went on, my own reactions ended up mirroring hers. Her shock became my shock, her fear became my fear; hell yeah I was on edge but it wasn’t the uncomfortable or disturbing sort. It was the unsettled, nervous, spine tingling on edge feeling.

Pardon my bluntness but I absolutely despised Tom and everything he stood for. He was such an arrogant and nasty piece of work, yet he most certainly made his presence known in the storyline. Even though I wished he swapped places with Zena, if ‘Undertow’ didn’t have a character with such skin crawling tendencies, I honestly don’t think it would have had the intense storyline that ‘Undertow’ ended up with. He was a vital character in terms of personality, but my golly he disgusted me in more ways than one.

‘Undertow’ reminded me of a pot of water on the stove to boil. At first the storyline simmered gently, the odd situation causing a few bubbles. Then, as the storyline unfolded and cans of worms were opened, the amount of bubbles multiplied and the intensity of the storyline boiled and reached its peak. With a vengeance. It was then, when the book hit boiling point, the turn of events caught me completely off guard, with a pounding heart. Did I expect those events? No, I didn’t because the author wrote each and every uncomfortable situation, extremely cleverly. The author seemed to have an idea what the readers first instincts may have been and to me, it felt as though she had worked the storyline to make sure the readers expected the unexpected. No first instincts, just teasers and the need to use your own brain power to decipher exactly what those teasers meant.

‘Undertow’ is a cleverly written, head-funk of a book that is full to the brim of uncertainty, intensity and enough turbulence to rival dinner with an ex. Full of shocking and hair-raising moments, you may end up finishing this book wondering if you can even trust yourself…

Looking forward to read Elizabeth Heathcote’s next book, after this!
Thank you Quercus!

Buy ‘Undertow’ from Amazon UK
Buy ‘Undertow’ from Amazon US 

6 thoughts on “#PublicationDay #Review – Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote (@lizzieheathcote) @QuercusBooks

  1. I love this review so much!! You nailed Carmen! I warmed to her but it was just because of the warmth she seemed to carry around and her efforts and reactions that felt so normal.. Anyway, you expressed it better than I do haha! I read and reviewed Undertow last year and loved it! I’m so happy you enjoyed it too!


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