Review of ‘We Know You Know’ by Erin Kelly

An emotionally intense psychological thriller, this book surprisingly lacks the twists I would expect from an Erin Kelly book, but it was a good read all the same.

The story is centred on an asylum hospital, which is the strongest element of the story for me. We encounter the asylum in the present day when it has been turned into flats, then in the 80s when the building is condemned, then in the 50s when a main character was a patient there. The book examines changing attitudes towards the definitions and treatments of mental illness. I like how this is a main theme of the book and I found it more interesting than the main storyline, which is about blackmail and possible murder. The story is well-structured although a little too long for me. It was obviously thoroughly researched and there is a list of resources used at the back.

I felt that the writing style was a little weaker occasionally than the others of hers that I’ve read, but it’s still more sophisticated than the average thriller. It bugged me that the term ‘call[ed] someone out’ – as in to criticise someone’s behaviour – is used three times. This usage didn’t fit in with the writing style. Moreover, the character is a British woman in her 40s and I’m not sure she would say it. The other phrase that annoyed me was ‘tearing up’ instead of having tears in her eyes.

First published as Stone Mothers (2019), which is a more evocative title as it refers to the asylums. We Know You Know (2020) is an awful title but it does tie in with the previous novel He Said / She Said.

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