Summer reads – Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Friday 26th July 2013

Colette mcbethIf Colette McBeth’s name sounds familiar it’s probably because she worked as a BBC TV news reporter for ten years. During that time she covered a host of notorious crime stories and became fascinated by the ways in which perpetrators of heinous crimes attempt to hide their crimes.

Two years ago, however, she won a place on the Faber Academy writing course and began working on her debut novel. The course, incidentally, is fast making a name as a literary talent spotter. It has only been going for five years and has already propelled SJ Watson (whose Before I Go To Sleep is being made into a film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman) and Rachel Joyce (author of the wonderful The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) to bestsellerdom.

Now McBeth could follow suit. Her psychological thriller, Precious Thing, is published next week (August 1) and it’s a great read.

The tale of two best friends – one the lumpy, awkward new girl, the other the charismatic girl who everyone wants to be pals with – it’s tautly written, menacing and gripping. As unconfident Rachel and cool Clara quickly become inseparable, they find themselves inextricably bound by their love of Take That, their hatred of PE and a dark secret they share.

Fast forward to their late twenties though and it’s Rachel who has the successful TV career, the chic flat and the loving boyfriend while Clara’s life is fast spiralling out of control. Then out of the blue Clara vanishes altogether. But has she been abducted, committed suicide or merely gone AWOL in classic Clara style? In a neat twist Rachel’s newsroom sends her out to cover the case.

Told in the first person, McBeth’s novel flips back and forth between the past and the present. But unlike some books I could mention, I found both strands equally compelling. The girls’ teenage years are vividly portrayed (especially Clara’s dangerous ruse for getting out of school games lessons) and as you’d expect, the newsroom scenes are far more believable than most.

Precious Thing is a smart, pacy novel about the complexity of female friendship and best of all, McBeth kept me guessing about the denouement right until the very last page. In my book you can’t say better than that…

PS. If you enjoyed Rosamund Lupton’s Afterwards a couple of years back, you’ll definitely enjoy this.

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth (Headline, £14.99)

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