Wow! What an ending!!!
I didn’t guess what was going on until it was close to the end. I knew that Paul was in prison, so I supposed that the reason was Jasmine’s disappearance. I wondered if he had killed the young woman because he didn’t have many recollections of that time he was first in Greece. Besides, there were references to a naked woman. What I didn’t expect was for him to have been framed for crimes he hadn’t committed. His lies to Alice was his ruin; the police grew suspicious when he threw lie after lie: his address in London; when he had arrived in Greece; his occupation… All those lies meant a new nail on his coffin.
Jasmine’s body was found in a well when the builders were working on the property. The police had already questioned Paul about Laura’s rape. Then all the evidence pointed at him. Laura claimed that he had tried to chat her up in a bar the previous day, which was untrue, and I don’t understand why she lied. It is not clear who raped Laura, but what we know is that Jasmine’s death was an accident. Alice killed her when she was driving her car, upset, and the girl appeared out of nowhere. We understand that Andrew helped her to get rid of the body, but then even though she knew Jasmine was dead, she immersed herself into a year-long campaign to find the girl. Then ten years later when she was informed that she had to leave her house in Greece as the property had been bought by a developer, she knew that it was a question of time before the body was found.
I imagine that she and Andrew plotted together to frame the person they hated: Paul. Paul had said some horrible things about Florrie that night in Greece, drunk as he was and not knowing that Florrie had committed suicide because of him. So Andrew must have orchestrated the encounter with Paul, and then he invited him to his dinner so that Alice could work her way into his confidence. Paul was a puppet in their hands. In the well the police found some objects that contained Paul’s DNA: a pashmina that Paul recalled having touched in Alice’s van, and the spanner he removed from the bonnet. The police has no doubts about his guilt, and he is arrested and sent to police. It is not until he talks to Alice that he realizes how he has been a pawn, and Alice is cruel and vindictive.
I have to admit that I don’t like Paul’s character at all. His lack of respect for others is cringe-worthy and his continuous lying and deceit only made him look even worse. Yet, I think the character redeemed himself somehow as the novel progressed. He wasn’t much better, but I think he realized that he didn’t just want to take advantage of Alice but love her and be loved by her. His motivations changed as the novel progressed. I think he didn’t deserve to be imprisoned for crimes he didn’t commit. As for Alice, I think she proved to be ten times worse than Paul. She connived against him, fully aware of what she was doing; selling herself and her body for retaliation. On top of it all, she was the one who killed Jasmine, and she was such a hypocrite, acting as if she cared about her parents when she was hiding this huge secret and then going out of her way to shift the blame to someone else. I can understand that she was angry with Paul for what she did to her friend Florrie and what he said when the girl was dead, but I don’t think he deserved that ending. No one is a saint here, but I think the worst character by far is Alice with Andrew being the runner-up.
I loved the story. It was quite dark and atmospheric, with unlikeable characters, not the kind you can sympathise with, but it was so intense and I kept guessing until the very end. I would have liked to have know who raped Laura. We know if wasn’t Paul, but it is not clear if it was Louis. The boy was rebellious, but I have a hard time believing that he had the disposition to do something like that.