4 out of 4 stars
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It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you. Concealment by Rose Edwards is a unique read. The story follows Amy, a wealthy partner at a tax firm, as she struggles to keep the secret of her shaky mental health and family history from shaming her at work while also trying to solve a tax fraud based murder mystery.
I say unique because it truly is. It's refreshing to see a non-neurotypical lead character, especially in a context where her symptoms don't also somehow grant her superpowers. It's interesting to see her weigh each revelation against other evidence in order to make sure she wasn't hallucinating.
The way everyone interacts with Amy is also interesting because many women (especially in a professional setting) have been there too. The second she says something to anyone that they don't want to hear she is dismissed as over reacting, emotional, paranoid or crazy. It seems to happen just as often when she's at her most calm and lucid as when she's struggling to keep it together, and it's always couched in terminology to make the other person seem reasonable. It's easy to empathize with her frustration against this gaslighting and see the damage it does to someone already questioning her sanity.
That said Amy as a character is a little difficult to really like. She keeps herself isolated from everyone including the reader and is a deeply narcissistic, blatantly and deliberately manipulative person. She is however a very clear product of her upbringing and her current environment. She fits right in in the snakes den she moves through. She is also tough as nails and a little admirable for her confidence and drive. By the end I liked her just enough to sincerely hope she sees a therapist later in the series.
Overall I'd give the story 4 out of 4 stars. The characters had depth, the threats were palpable and believable, and somehow the author managed to make complicated tax fraud not only make sense but also made it interesting. I would recommend anyone who reads this keep a little scratch paper handy to note down suspects and follow the paper trail. It is a little hard to follow just due to the volume of marginal but important characters. If you want non-stop action this might not be your book. If you want to think, learn, and enjoy a unique sort of character I recommend it. Also maybe if you're a tax professional it might be fun to see what they got right about the profession. As an American who can only do math on a good day, I have to admit I took the representation of the British tax system entirely on faith.
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