Review by mayaellenson -- Concealment by Rose Edmunds

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Latest Review: Concealment by Rose Edmunds

Review by mayaellenson -- Concealment by Rose Edmunds

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[Following is a volunteer review of "Concealment" by Rose Edmunds.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Concealment: A Compelling Psychological Thriller (Crazy Amy Book 1) is a standalone mystery novel, ensued by Exposure and Restitution. Penned by a best-selling author, Rose Edmunds, Concealment springs from the author’s in-depth knowledge of cutthroat philosophy of London’s top financial firms.

Amy Robinson, the main character, is a senior executive of a prestigious tax firm, Pearson Malone. With her elegant house, posh wardrobe, and attractive appearance, Amy is supposed to be at ease with herself and everyone around her, but things are not always as they appear. Pearson Malone's atmosphere resembles the theater of the absurd with its unhealthy competition, deception, and faceless conformity. She finds the atmosphere of the firm stifling. This reputed and glossy corporation promotes diversity as its corporate ethics, but in reality forces everyone into a Procrustean bed of obedience.

Told in the first person perspective, we observe the world around her through Amy’s eyes. Amy’s devious boss, Ed Smithies, plays with her a callous psychological game to undermine her self-confidence, for he doesn’t like subordinates who, like Amy, speak their minds. Besides, he has his bossy grounds for nitpicking her. Amy often handles her stress with a bottle of gin, and her social behavior doesn’t always look up to the mark.

Amy describes her antagonist as “a pudgy, oily man with sinister white teeth, and grating nasal whine of a voice”. This voice-related trait becomes Smithies’ permanent epithet, allowing a reader to get into Amy’s shoes through her perceptive ears. And here is the rub: Is Smithies really a devil in flesh? Perhaps he is just a projection of her paranoia. Amy’s 14-year old alter ego keeps showing up every so often to puff up her inner torment.

When Amy’s junior associate, Isabelle Edwards, disappears and afterwards is found murdered, she starts her own investigation, following her colleague’s paper trails. With her lazar-sharp logic and keen intuition, Amy untangles a complicated cobweb of corporate fraud and a cover-up. In the meantime, the police arrests Ryan, Isabelle’s boyfriend and a co-worker. Amy doesn’t believe Ryan is guilty, providing for him a lame alibi. Tightly squeezed between Smithies, having his foot on her neck, and the inquisitive detectives she has her solid reasons to distrust, Amy perseveres in her research get to the root of the crime. And now with the new, stark evidence in her hands she puts herself in imminent danger.

Edmunds’ writing mode is somewhat akin to Sebastien Japrisot’s poetics of suspense. The author sculpts her protagonists by gradually fleshing them out. Amy’s character is executed with suggestive and tinged syntax, unveiling, petal after petal, complex undercurrents of Amy’s psyche. Amy’s mother, an obsessive hoarder, deprived Amy of a normal childhood. For a middle-class city girl growing up in a trashcan was an agonizing experience. Compelled to conceal the truth from everyone to keep up with the Joneses, Amy loses her equilibrium. One the one side, Amy appears to be a successful executive, driven to climb the corporate ladder even higher. But the other Amy is deeply insecure and vulnerable, being mentally trapped in her dysfunctional household. In a way, Amy’s recurring shadow is her best teacher, urging her to fully grow up. Little Amy won't leave her alone until Amy Robinson declutters her life not only of rubbish, piled up in her mother’s house, but jettisons her gnawing sense of guilt and shame.

Also, I really admire how the author implements in her novel the method of regressive denouement, allowing a reader to retrace the events, heralding the finale. The novel's climax reveals how intricately Amy's growing ability of discernment is interlaced with the windup in uncovering the layers of crimes. With her incursions of noir style of writing, Rose Edmunds portrays in her book a bleak cynicism of post-modern capitalism, exemplified by London’s upscale financial firms. As Amy terms it, it’s a world of “opportunistic robots”. Perhaps in this impersonal universe, being “crazy” isn't that bad at all, being the very attribute that keeps Amy’s individuality so eccentrically alive.

The book is peppered with local semantics and the professional jargon I found in the beginning a little challenging. But, on the other hand, it’s always interesting to learn more about the subject you’re not completely at home with.

With that being said, I rate Concealment 4 out of 4 stars.

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