Witness by Mandasue Heller #bookreview @emmadonnan @MandasueHeller

Dark and gritty, Witness is a heart-pounding thriller set in Manchester by bestselling author Mandasue Heller.

Holly Evans and her over-protective mother, Josie, are living a hand-to-mouth existence, moving constantly from one squalid dump to the next. When they move into an illegally sub-let council flat in Manchester, Holly feels settled for the first time in her life – even if she is forbidden to go out, or even open the front door to callers when her mum’s at work. What exactly are they hiding from?

Then Holly has a falling out with her best friend, and suddenly finds herself becoming increasingly isolated and alone in the world. But she is about to make a new friend in Suzie – the glamorous woman who lives directly across the road, who Holly witnesses being beaten up by her violent boyfriend. When it happens a second time it’s Holly who Suzie turns to for help, and a bond is quickly formed between the pair. But whoever Holly and Josie have been running from is about to find them, and nothing will ever be the same again . . .

You can only run for so long, and some will kill for your silence . . .

How on earth is this my first experience of a Mandersue Heller book?! I’m such a big fan of this genre but I’ve never even had her on my radar before. But after reading Witness I will make sure that I read her whole back catalogue because I absolutely loved this book! It’s a gritty crime thriller set around the city of Manchester with a gripping storyline and brilliantly realistic characters!

Holly and her mum are living a lifestyle that isn’t beneficial to either of them. Josie is out cleaning every night leaving 15 year old Holly home alone. They have moved from nasty squats and flats to a decent place at last-even if the guy upstairs has loud parties nightly and there are domestic violence disturbances on a regular basis. Holly has good friends and an ambitious determination but when she gets friendly with the gorgeous neighbour from across the road, it sets in motion events that will change Holly’s life forever…

Witness is a darkly disturbing look at life on the breadline showing that no matter how hard you work to get out of gutter, there is often someone (or something) ready to kick you back down there. I felt so sorry for Holly as she was struggling with the usual teenager problems such as friendship issues alongside the gradual awareness that her mum is hiding something from her. And I felt so much sympathy for Josie who was working all the hours to keep her family financially secure whilst constantly looking over her shoulder for trouble. The mother/daughter relationship that Suzie stuck up with Holly must have hurt as Suzie had the time and money to do things with Holly that Josie wasn’t able to. And when trouble did come knocking at their door, it was rather a shock to everyone involved!!

Witness was a slow burning thriller that built up the tension gradually and so I felt like I was reading about real people living on a real life estate. As it headed towards its shocking denouement I had become so invested in these people that I didn’t want Witness to end and so I slowed down my reading to postpone that inevitable last page. I will be preordering Mandasue Hellers next book as soon as I am able to-I’m thrilled to have discovered her!

From the back streets of Manchester to the nightclubs and penthouses of the beautiful people, Mandasue Heller, author of the top ten bestseller Afraid, knows the world she writes. Born in Warrington, she moved to Manchester in the 1980s, where she found the inspiration for her novels. She spent ten years living in the infamous Hulme Crescents and was a professional singer for many years before turning her hand to writing.

She has three children, three grandchildren, and still writes and records songs with her musician partner, Wingrove, between books.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.