Believe In Me by Susan Lewis , Century HB, £12.99
Reviewed by Karen Byrom
It’s always cause for celebration when a new Susan Lewis novel lands on my desk. She can’t be beaten for gritty family dramas with true-to-life characters and situations that immediately draw you in.
When a single father is sent to prison for the heinous crime of child abduction and murder, what happens to his own child, left behind? Social Services step in and Daniel Marks is sent to a foster home. But wherever he goes, someone always finds out who he really is.
And so he must move again, often to foster parents who are not always kind.
Small minority of troublemakers
Meanwhile, single mum Leanne is settling into life with her mother, Wilkie, a campaigner of righting wrongs! She is currently battling for the right of her Polish neighbour Klaudia and children to stay in Britain post-Brexit, without fear or harrassment from a small minority of troublemakers.
The suicide of her alcoholic husband has left Leanne deeply hurt, especially as her teenage daughter Abby seems to blame her. She also accuses Leanne of loving her older sister, Kate, more than her.
But Leanne is made of strong stuff. She deals with Abby calmly, supports Wilkie in her sometimes risky protests and even finds time to form a new friendship with newcomer to town, Tom Franklyn.
Leanne has even more love in her heart to give, and so it that Daniel comes to live with her, Wilkie and Abby as a foster son.
As the family get to know the eager young boy, they become as convinced as he is of the father’s innocence. And so another of Wilkie’s campaigns begin!
Will Leanne, Wilkie and Kate be able to persuade the authorities to re-examine the case against Patrick Marks?
Hope for the future
The multi-stranded plot of Believe In Me is typical of Susan Lewis’s stories. No-one knows better than this gifted writer that life is not one straight narrative, that events impinge on each other and influence outcomes, often in the oddest of ways.
But thanks to strong, steady characters, the reader never goes off track. The story comes to an ultimately satisfying conclusion, with loose ends neatly tied up, and real hope for the future for all concerned. A heart-warming, sometimes heart-stopping read, Believe In Me will have you firmly believing in Susan Lewis’s gifts as a great story-teller.
Read an exclusive interview with Susan Lewis in My Weekly, issue dated Feb 10, on sale February 6 to February 13