NOBODY BUT US
LAURE VAN RENSBURG
In this locked room, high‑concept thriller that's part The Guest List, part The Girl Before, a couple's romantic weekend‑getaway is not what it seems.
When Ellie and her boyfriend Steven take their first trip together, what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbors secrets—and that one of those secrets is deadly.
Ellie is an NYU grad student, timid but fiercely intelligent, and eager for the perfect weekend away with her boyfriend. Steven is a wealthy and privileged teacher at an elite Manhattan school. His and Ellie's relationship has stirred up envy among the teachers in his academic circle.
When they head out for their romantic break, they're both excited to get to know each other better away from prying eyes. But when a snowstorm strands them in the house, they begin to realize that neither of them is quite who they say they are—and that one of them won't escape the weekend alive.
MY REVIEW **
I have often remarked that publishers have to be careful of their taglines and blurbs. Hyping up expectations, comparing to other books or even just promising something that can’t be delivered will all end up heightening the readers standards to something that cannot be attained. Nobody But Us seems to fall into this trap as it promises a ‘locked room thriller. Now don’t get me wrong, I *love* a locked room mystery and I requested the book on this basis, however this might have been where it all fell down for me.
For a locked room thriller to work it needs to be compelling, a real mystery to the characters but also to the reader. I want a proper whodunnit that gives me twists and turns throughout to slowly reveal what has been happening behind the scenes to take us to this conclusion. In Nobody But Us there are two characters, and judging by the hints in the blurb and the first chapter you can correctly predict exactly what is going to happen from the first few pages.
There’s creepy teacher Steven, who seems to have a penchant for the students he teaches and there’s the mysterious Ellie who is his latest catch. Although we are supposed to be rooting for Ellie, I actually found both of them to be unsympathetic characters. Ellie has her own secrets and the whole situation spirals out of control in quite an unrealistic way with some rather large plot holes. We also have chapters written from an unknown perspective alternating in although as you knew it had to be linked to what was happening in the present it didn’t make it too hard to guess why it had been included. There was an overabundance of scene building and description and use of repetitive phrases which added nothing to the story and made for a frustrating read.
Overall, there’s nothing in Nobody But Us that you couldn’t guess from its blurb and first few chapters and although it highlights an important topic, it’s a predictable and disappointing read. It is also certainly not a locked room thriller! Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin Book UK – Michael Joseph for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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