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White Bodies by Jane Robins
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White Bodies

by Jane Robins

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7915216,051 (3.22)5

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Callie Farrow’s actress-sister, Tilda, is in love with Felix, a man Callie believes is abusing her sister. Hoping for a better understanding of the hold Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for women in abusive or controlling relationships. But as she becomes more and more involved with some of the women in the group, she soon finds herself in an untenable position. Will Callie find a way out of her problems with the group? And exactly what is the truth about the relationship between Tilda and Felix?

There’s nothing complex or compelling about either twin in this eerie narrative; both are completely unlikable and each, in her own way, is twisted and demented. Desperate and neurotic, Cassie’s obsessiveness is cringeworthy. Narcissistic Tilda has her own warped agenda. As with so many other “twin tales,” the central characters in this dark, disagreeable story are “totally opposite” twins. The turning of twinness into the ludicrous repulsiveness found in these pages serves no particular purpose other than to offend any twins who happen upon this relentlessly unpalatable tale.

Fortunately, the brisk pacing of this creepy narrative makes it a quick read. However, unexpected reveals lead to a rather unsatisfactory denouement while the constant inclusion of a particularly offensive expletive in almost every conversation quickly becomes vexatious and has the unfortunate tendency of offending the reader even further. ( )
  jfe16 | Sep 21, 2018 |
Disappointingly obvious who the villain was - but I did keep reading to see how exactly the crime was done. Perhaps that was the author's intent? I do plan to read more from this author - the writing itself was very well done, taught, exciting and the pacing perfect. I am still contemplating giving this four stars - we'll see how it sticks with me in the next few days.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.) ( )
  ouroborosangel | May 22, 2018 |
This is a fun read that puts a 21st century twist on the premise of the famous 1951 Alfred Hitchcock movie, Strangers on a Train. That’s the one where two strangers fall into conversation and agree to murder a person of the other’s choosing. They convince themselves that, since there is nothing to connect murderer and victim, the crimes will be easy to get away with. Right.
But, how would you effect such an anonymous encounter today? Where would you look for such a willing accomplice? The Internet, of course! “The internet is where psychos find each other,” says character Tilda. And Robins makes good use of the strengths and weaknesses of social media in crafting her tale.
The protagonist in this London-based domestic thriller is Callie—a bit socially awkward, insecure about her looks (and everything else), a librarian. The relationship between her and her glamorous twin sister Tilda is explored in both the current time and a succession of flashbacks. Callie increasingly believes that “the perfect man” Tilda has become involved with—the wealthy, handsome, larger-than-life and more than a bit obsessive-compulsive American, Felix Nordberg—is actually quite dangerous.
Desperate to help Tilda, Callie becomes involved with a website called controllingmen.com, where all the classic signs of a relationship headed toward abuse are spelled out, just the way she sees them in Tilda and Felix’s relationship.
But Tilda dismisses her sister’s concerns, and you’ll understand Callie’s bafflement at how to proceed without creating a rift between them. At times you may want to wring her neck for the way she can’t stop herself from blurting out her suspicions. Moreover, she can’t seem to see how her obsession with Tilda and Felix is interfering with her own life.
We know from the first pages that Felix is dead. But was he murdered? The medical examiner says he died from natural causes. Although I thought I understood how Felix died, I hadn’t reckoned with Jane Robins’s diabolical imagination. I had to reread some of the last bits to be sure I understood the extent of the duplicity. That sense of something happening behind the scenes that I hadn’t quite grasped really kept the pages turning.
Robins has written several true-crime and non-fiction books and has a straightforward style that is a nice counterpoint to the emotions rampaging through Callie, and every one of the main characters in White Bodies is believable.
As a side note, a disadvantage to book reviewing is the “promotional cover.” The White Bodies review copy bore a temporary cover with a quote in all-capital scarlet letters, “Everyone wants someone murdered.” Not the kind of thing you can put on an empty train seat beside you for a stranger to see. ( )
  Vicki_Weisfeld | Feb 6, 2018 |
2.5 White Bodies is Jane Robins's first fiction work.

Callie and Tilda are twin sisters, but very different in their personality and lives. Callie is an outgoing actress, married to Felix. Tilda is reserved and single. When Tilda begins to notice changes in Callie's behaviour, appearance and demeanor - not working, not eating, with bruises on her body, she is sure it is Felix's doing as he has a temper. In an attempt to understand what might be happening to her sister, Tilda goes online and joins a support group for abuse victims and their friends and families. She makes the acquaintance of a woman who agrees to take things a step further....think Strangers on a Train.

I loved Robins's premise - there are so many possibilities. Especially with twins. But the focus of White Bodies is more on relationships - that between the sisters takes center stage.

In an interview, Robins uses the words intense, eccentric and twisty to describe White Bodies. Its the eccentric that stands out for me. I found the behaviour of both sisters decidedly odd and frankly quite off putting early on. Callie eats her sister's hair and drinks her urine. Yes, she eats things belonging to others to feel close to them. Uh huh. Gagworthy for me. Tilda is not the only one with mental issues. We do get some background into the sisters' past with background chapters. But for me, there were no likable characters in White Bodies.

Yes, there's a nice twisty bit at the end, but overall White Bodies was a miss for me.

I chose to listen to White Bodies. The reader was Camilla Arfwedson. Her performance was excellent, as always. Her voice is clear, well enunciated and pleasant to listen to. She interprets Robins' work well. ( )
  Twink | Feb 4, 2018 |
This book starts off by describing the death of Felix. I was hooked right away. I then met the wife, Tilda, and her younger sister Callie. Callie and Tilda had a complex relationship that carried on into adulthood. Callie found herself obsessed with her sister's life - as an aspiring actress and half of the perfect couple. Callie became so obsessed that she met other women online who were also being abused. However, not everything is as it seems, and when Callie finally discovers the truth, others have died, something Callie learns to live with. The action and suspense built up, then crashed. I was not happy with the ending. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Nov 30, 2017 |
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"Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple ... But behind their flawless facade, not everything is as it seems. Callie, Tilda's unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix's domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix's uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister's arms. Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends"--… (more)

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