Book review: White Bodies by Jane Robins
Callie Farrow’s love for her twin sister Tilda is so powerful that it borders on the obsessional… so are her suspicions that Tilda’s husband is a violent, domestic abuser just a figment of her overactive imagination, or is her life truly in danger?
Prepare to have your mind teased, tormented and twisted by the stunning debut novel from former TV and newspaper journalist Jane Robins in her first foray into fiction writing after penning several true-crime books including The Curious Habits of Dr Adams and The Magnificent Spilsbury.
A deep, dark and disturbing chiller-thriller, White Bodies is a labyrinthine, psychological page-turner, a story bristling with tension, mind games and shocking revelations that will make your skin crawl, set your brain spinning and send shivers up your spine.
In a plot that is as clever as it is compelling, we enter the complex lives of Callie and Tilda, and are thrust into the heart of a sinister sibling relationship that exposes both the menacing side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind twin sisters together.
Felix Nordberg and his wife Tilda Farrow seem like the perfect couple. Young and in love, Felix is a wealthy London financier and Tilda is a beautiful, up-and-coming actress. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.
Callie, Tilda’s shy and unassuming twin, has watched her sister start to visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She can’t work out if Felix is ‘a truly amazing person’ who adores Tilda, or ‘deeply dangerous.’
But now Tilda has stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in cling film and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom bin. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the small bruises on her sister’s arms but Tilda is starting to resent Callie’s interference in her life.
Callie too has something to hide… since the age of seven, she has been monitoring her twin, ‘observing her, checking she’s okay’ and keeping a ‘dossier’ on Tilda’s life.
Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new web acquaintances is killed by an abusive man.
Callie becomes determined to save Tilda, but the cost of her rescue mission could destroy them all…
White Bodies is an intriguing and mesmerising story, exploring themes of obsession, manipulation, and sibling rivalry with originality, jaw-dropping shock tactics and an addictive blend of domestic noir and psycho thriller.
The bizarre and unsettling bond between Callie and Tilda is the driving force behind all the drama and darkness, their past and present lives slowly unfolding and at the same time exposing the fault lines in their relationship.
Robins has created a truly fascinating and gripping novel, fizzing with menace and suspense, and with a suitably gobsmacking twist in the tail. To miss it is to miss out on a treat!
(HQ, hardback, £12.99)