CTG Reviews: VIRAL by Helen Fitzgerald


What the blurb says: “Leah and her adopted sister Su are almost the same age – but have always been opposites. Leah is wild and often angry, whereas Su is successful and swotty. When they go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their exam results, it is Leah that their mother worries about – but it’s Su who doesn’t come home.

Su is on the run, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing multiple sex acts in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Their mother Ruth, a successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? What role has Leah played in all this? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her daughter? And can Ruth bring Su back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?”

This book has one hell of an opening line. It demands the reader’s attention, and once it has it, it keeps it, as the revelations just keep on coming throughout this fabulously twisty-turny thriller.

What I especially enjoyed about this book was the complex relationships between the characters. Leah and Su used to be close when they were little, but as they’ve grown into teenagers they’ve grown apart, with Leah becoming increasingly more hostile towards her adopted sister. At the same time, Ruth’s relationship with Leah has disintegrated and she feels a stronger bond with Su. When Su disappears, all these emotions reach boiling point, threatening to rip the family apart. Ruth is determined to get Su back at any cost – whether it’s to her job, her family or both.

Ruth devises a plan to find Su. She pulls strings, uses her police and court contacts to find out what she can, and tasks family members with tracking Su both online and in Magaluf. But as things go from bad to worse, and Ruth’s plan doesn’t play out the way she’d intended, and it appears that Su may have ideas of her own about what she wants to happen next.

This is a story where good people take bad decisions and where all actions have consequences, some of which reach much wider and are far more devastating than they could ever have imagined.

It’s a story about love, loss, simmering resentment and grief. It’s about needing to find who you are, what’s important to you, and carving out your own place in the world.

It’s also one hell of a rollercoaster ride thriller!



[With thanks to Faber for my copy of VIRAL]

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