There’s a visceral quality to John Marrs’ writing that I love! I read the blurb and immediately judged Laura. I mean, there you are, at your wits end and you call End of the Line. A woman named Laura picks up the phone and her voice is soft and soothing. She listens carefully and without judgement to all of your problems. You feel like finally someone understands what you’re going through so you call a second time, hoping to speak to Laura again. Over time she earns your trust and she goes above and beyond to help you … right over a cliff.
How can you feel anything but disdain for someone who actively encourages people to die by suicide? Read The Good Samaritan and you’ll discover that there are many contradictory and confusing emotions you can attach to her character. I found I developed an empathy I wasn’t expecting to feel for this villain/victim. What shocked me was that I found I could understand where she was coming from and why her actions made perfect sense to her.
I really appreciate when an author can take something I see as a moral no-brainer and adds enough grey that I can no longer accurately distinguish whether something is more black or white. The complexities of Laura’s character had me rooting for her, against my better judgement. I wanted everything to turn out okay for her, despite feeling from the get go she was destined to crash and burn. (Or was she?!) Even after I learned more about her from the perspective of other characters I still liked her.
Accompanying Laura on this journey are her husband, two daughters and son. Running parallel to Laura’s story is that of Ryan, who is grieving the loss of his pregnant wife and desperately searching for answers. We also meet a number of helpline angels who are doing their best to support callers through their most vulnerable times. I would love to tell you all about the story but telling you just one more thing would cause an avalanche of explanations of why that is important, who it relates to and why, and how that’s then going to spiral into something unexpected and extraordinary.
While the themes in this novel are dark, the storytelling is brilliant! I got caught up in the intricacies of the major players’ characters, motivations and actions. With so many pieces of half-truths and hints of information to come being dangled in front of me throughout the book I wondered how the author could possibly wrap it all up in time. Not only were my questions answered, they were satisfying and mostly unexpected. When you have so many people involved in morally questionable actions at best and reprehensible ones at worst, how do you determine what outcome is fitting for them?
The exploration of the events that help mould us into the people we become and our responsibility in determining whether we use the potentially devastating events in our lives to propel us forward or to get stuck in the mire was fascinating. The interplay between nature and nurture is an area of interest for me. The half a psychologist in me (the half that doesn’t pay) got sucked in by the character studies of Laura and Ryan, and gave me so much to chew on I expect I’ll be thinking about them for a while to come.
Content warnings include suicide and depression. I’d encourage you to go to http://www.befrienders.org and find the details of an organisation in your area that can help if you are considering suicide. Helpline volunteers are truly remarkable people who deserve way more credit than they receive!
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for the opportunity to read this book. I have to read everything that John Marrs ever writes!
Once Upon a Blurb
She’s a friendly voice on the phone. But can you trust her?
The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.
Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.
But now someone’s on to her – Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?
The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to …
Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.