A true-crime podcast inches perilously close to the truth for Hannah…
The past haunts her. The present hunts her.
Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was brutally murdered in their home, and she (conveniently) doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone else—a stranger—and put him away for life. And Hannah packed up her six-year-old daughter and left London behind.
But now her hard-won countryside peace is threatened. Conviction, a viral true crime podcast known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned, has turned its attention to Hannah’s husband’s murder for its new season. They say police framed the man who was found guilty, and that Hannah has more suspicious secrets than just her memory loss: a history of volatility; citations at the clinic where she worked as a psychiatrist; dependencies on alcohol and pills; and a familicidal grandmother, locked away in a Gothic insane asylum until her death. As Hannah loses the trust of everyone she loves, the only person she feels she can confide in is a former colleague, Darcy, who’s come back into her life—but who may have motives of her own. But Hannah can’t tell even Darcy her deepest secret: that she’s still tormented by the memory of her husband and the crater he carved through her life.
Possession is the new novel by the author of the much-buzzed-about The Furies. I thought it looked interesting, and I’ve been seeing a fair number of suspense/crime novels that feature a true-crime podcast at its centre. While I haven’t listened to many, my partner loves My Favorite Murder and a couple of others, so I thought it might be interesting to see how Lowe incorporates that cultural phenomenon into the novel. Turns out, the author does it very well. I enjoyed this.
Conviction @ConvictionPod · 1m
The investigating officer: “I’ve seen a lot of homicides in the years since, but…that’s the one that keeps me up at night.”
The husband’s best man: “They had everybody fooled. Or at least, she did. But I always knew something was off.”
Hannah, the wife: “I told you. I don’t remember anything. I don’t know.”
That’s all to come, this season, on Conviction. Get ready for our most twisted season yet.
I don’t want to spoil the story, so I won’t spend any time detailing the plot: it’s one that parses out details gradually, as we get to know the characters involved, and also to build tension. The novel alternates between the past and the present. The former details events of Hannah’s life with Graham and leads up to the death at the heart of the plot. The present-day chapters detail Hannah’s attempts to handle the fact that the death of her husband is at the centre of a new podcast season. Not only that, she’s terrified that they’ll actually uncover the truth — the way it played out back then was strangely fortuitous. What have the podcast hosts uncovered? Who have they managed to get to talk, to air their concerns and doubts about the case? What will this mean for Hannah’s new life?
Lowe does a fantastic job of showing us the creeping sense of dread and increasing anxiety Hannah feels, as she listens to the podcast episodes, recalls the events of that awful day, and tries to balance her current, content life with this part of her past. Her sense that it could all be snatched away from her grows as the novel progresses is well done.
Well-written characters, good prose, and an engaging plot. If you’re looking for an enjoyable suspense/crime read, then I think you should give this a try. It’s well-paced and quite well-written. (If you like the true-crime podcast as a plot device, I’d also recommend Denise Mina’s Conviction.)