While not as innovative a thriller as Gardner’s first work, Losing Gemma, The Mermaid’s Purse certainly made for an excellent holiday read. We’re in typical thriller territory – stalkerville – and Gardner plays up to that in many ways with protagonist, English lecturer Cass Bainbridge, too close to the trees to see the wood. So as the suspense builds you’re either willing Cass to wake-up or praying Gardner delivers a quick twist or two. In the end Gardner delivers most cleverly with a strategy calculated to subvert the genre and put us all back on our feet.
This is a novel about family and identity and, to my mind, how over dependent we can be on family when defining who we are. So, for me, the conclusions Cass came to were a little too convention and I’d have enjoyed her more if she’d gained a greater independence from her past.