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The Night Visitor    by Lucy Atkins order for
Night Visitor
by Lucy Atkins
Order:  USA  Can
Quercus, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Lucy Atkins' The Night Visitor is a rather creepy psychological tale, in which greed and ambition collide with a long planned revenge, a dish best served cold. As it opens, Professor Olivia Sweetman is terrified, expecting to see her perfect life unravel at any moment.

How did it get to this? The author takes readers back and forth in time to show how greed overcame ethics more than once. Will a damaged and very disturbed woman (who suffers insomnia caused by a night visitor) give in to her worst impulses? We need to read to the very end to find out.

It begins, and ends, with the much anticipated launch of Olivia's biography of a pioneering female Victorian surgeon. That biography is based on the exciting discovery of the woman's diary. This came to Olivia through Vivian Tester, whose own academic career ended in scandal and who ended up as housekeeper of the Sussex manor that held the diary.

Grateful for her having turned over the diary, Olivia made Vivian her research assistant and she was an invaluable one, though their social interactions were always awkward. Now Vivian seems obsessed with Olivia and insists on their working on another book together - she becomes a stalker, following the Sweetman family on a vacation to the south of France.

Readers watch as that family vacation turns into a nightmare for Olivia, whose marriage starts to fall apart. When she sees and confronts Vivian, she reveals a secret that sends the woman over the edge. Matters develop until Olivia sees her entire life as 'a towering, toppling lie.'

Though I found The Night Visitor absorbing, it was very hard to like any of the main characters, which distanced me from the novel. Nevertheless, it is very cleverly written and will keep readers turning its pages, anxious to see where this is all leading.

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