If You Knew Her is a debut “psychological thriller” by Emily Elgar. I put psychological thriller in quotations because, to me, it didn’t quite hit that mark, although it was fairly gripping. The story is told from 3 different perspectives:
- Alice, who is a nurse working on 9B, an ICU/HDU type ward. She’s a highly experienced nurse who is also dealing with the struggle of trying to get pregnant.
- Frank, a patient on 9B who suffers from “locked-in syndrome”, a coma-like state in which the person is cognitively there, however cannot move or communicate in anyway. Frank observes what happens around him. Frank is believed by the medical team to be in a permanent vegetative state (they believe he has no cognition of his surroundings), and thus people on the ward are very open around him and he observes a lot of secrets.
- Cassie, a young woman, brought in post hit and run. She is currently in a coma and it is unclear who hit her, and if it was an accident or more sinister than that.
Through the perspectives of these 3, we begin to discover the truth behind what happened to Cassie. The story is told at a pace that is both steady but enthralling. I couldn’t put it down to be honest! It was a nice change to see this kind of book told from the medical perspective, rather than the investigative perspective… although we do get a fair bit of investigation as well. Alice is dead-set on figuring out what happened to Cassie, and definitely breaks her professional boundaries to do so.
So generally, I loved the pace, though I do think the first half of the book was a lot stronger than the second half. It is obvious to me that Emily Elgar is an extremely talented writer and either did a lot of research for this book, or possibly has experience in the medical field. For a bit of insight, I myself am a registered nurse. It’s understandable that I often get pissed when authors get medical terminology wrong. The author has done a fantastic job for the most part in regards to the medical side of things. The book was about 95% correct which is a breath of fresh air for this nurse/avid reader.
Personally, I did find the ending to be a bit of a let down. Considering the slow build, I would have liked the ending to be a little less obvious. I also felt one of the big things that happened in the book to be unrealistic and just plain crappy for that character… but I can’t say what it was without giving the story away! Just another small note is that it annoyed me that Alice was terrible at maintaining patient confidentiality, which I felt didn’t suit her character as she was passionate about patient wellbeing. Overall, I liked the book and would recommend it to those who like crime and slow builds. I would gladly read another book by Emily Elgar, as her talent absolutely shines and I feel like she’ll only improve her writing style! 3.5/5 stars.