Safe and Sound by Philippa East

Blog tour: 18 to 22 February 2021


Home can be the most dangerous place …

In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body …

Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant – Sarah Jones – was pretty, charismatic and full of life.

So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months?

My review

Jennifer (Jenn) Arden, 31, is a housing manager at the housing authority in Brixton, south London, and single mum to Charlie, aged eight. Jenn is rather protective of her son, always fearing that he is ill or suffering from some disorder or disability, and we learn that there was an incident last year at school that she’s still getting over. Jenn also has a distant and difficult relationship with her parents, especially her mum, and something has happened in the past to create this rift.

A tenant has fallen three months behind with their rent and has completely ignored all attempts at communication, so Jenn has booked the bailiffs to help speak to the woman and try to arrange a payment plan. When they all arrive at the flat, which is tiny and hidden under the stairs, Jenn peers through the letterbox and is concerned when she spots piles of mail blocking the front door. There’s also an unusual odour. She decides to call the police and when they finally arrive, everyone is shocked when they find the body of a woman, Sarah Jones, and she has obviously been dead for a few months, despite the fact the radio is still playing Capital FM.

Jenn feels guilty about what’s happened as she was having difficulties with her mental health the previous year and she cut corners at work and ticked off annual inspections when they hadn’t been done.

She becomes deeply affected by Sarah Jones’ death and can’t understand how someone can just pass away without anyone else noticing. She’s determined to uncover the truth and becomes obsessed with finding out about Sarah and her family and friends.

It begins to affect her life and she loses weight and becomes more paranoid and worried about her son and his health. It was disturbing to read as Jenn got more and more obsessed with looking into Sarah’s past and she was behaving rather erratically in all areas of her life but, being a single mum and not having any close friends, no one seemed to be really picking up on what was going on. In some ways, Jenn was rather similar to Sarah and she found this quite disturbing to consider.

The story is told mainly from Jenn’s viewpoint in the current day but sometime in the past (‘back then’), we also hear from a nine-year-old girl called Prin whose seven-year-old cousin, Jane, comes to live with her and her parents during the summer holidays. Prin’s mum and dad don’t explain why Jane is staying with them and Jane doesn’t discuss things either. Something awful has obviously happened as she keeps having flashbacks and nightmares.

Safe and Sound is very intriguing and full of suspense. It was fascinating as Jenn met people connected with Sarah Jones and little bits of information and clues were slowly revealed. I was also very curious to see how cousins Prin and Jane tied into the story and I had several theories, which were all wrong!

I really enjoyed this gripping and tense psychological thriller. It was well plotted and cleverly written and I was never quite sure whether Jenn and Prin were reliable narrators or not. I had numerous thoughts about whether they were telling the truth as the story progressed and was also suspicious of many of the other characters in the book, who all seemed to be acting strangely at various points!

Overall, this was a really enjoyable and compelling read and I consumed it in a couple of sittings, frantically turning the pages, desperate to see how it was all going to be resolved. I’m keen to read the author’s other book, Little White Lies, now and will definitely be checking out her next book!

Buy the book

Safe and Sound by Philippa East can be purchased from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback, and as an eBook from Kobo and iBooks.

About the author

Philippa East is a fiction writer with HQ/HarperCollins and she also works as a clinical psychologist.

Philippa grew up in Scotland before moving to Oxford and then London to complete her clinical psychology training. A few years ago, she left the NHS to set up her own part-time practice and dedicate more hours to writing. The result was her debut novel, Little White Lies, which was longlisted for The Guardian’s Not-The-Booker Prize and shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Award 2020.

Philippa now lives in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside with her husband and cat. She loves reading (of course!) and long country walks, and she also performs in a local folk duo called The Miracle Cure. Alongside her writing, Philippa continues to work as a psychologist and therapist.

Twitter: @philippa_east
Facebook: @philippa.east
Instagram: @philippa_east_author

Blog tour

Thanks to Sian Baldwin at HQ Stories for my digital copy of Safe and Sound and for my place on the blog tour.

See the banner below for more stops on the #blogtour.


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