Why I knew I had to publish The Never List
The Never List by Koethi Zan is hotly tipped to be publisher Harvill Secker’s most exciting 2013 debut crime novel.
Koethi has shared some intriguing insights from a debut author’s perspective, explaining how a mother of two, working as a full-time lawyer for MTV, found the time to write such a powerful novel.
Today, Publishing Director Liz Foley explains why she just had to publish Koethi’s debut novel and how she and her team have been truly captivated by the book.
Over to Liz:
“I think about The Never List every day. This isn’t just because we are so excited about publishing it this July, although that is certainly true. It’s because on my walk home from the bus stop every evening there is a handy dark-alley shortcut to my street. However, my own personal Never List has ‘Never walk down dark alleys after sunset’ somewhere near the top of it – and after reading this book I always take the long way round. From the moment we first received Koethi’s manuscript in the office, everyone at Harvill Secker has been discussing, fine-tuning and paying a great deal more attention to their Never Lists. But this is the least of the gifts that this book gives to its readers: it’s rare to find such a satisfying and intelligent read that is also completely gripping and hair-raising.
As Jeffery Deaver says about Koethi’s novel, you may as well give up on the idea of sleep once you pick it up – this is a swallow-in-one-go kind of book that has you hurtling from mystery to clue to shocking revelation to terrifying scenario to unexpected twist. It’s hard to pick my favourite things about The Never List because it has so many elements to discuss and it works on so many levels, both as a page-turning, cleverly constructed narrative and as a story that asks interesting questions about power, control and freedom. But if I had to pick three virtues I particularly love – Koethi’s mastery of pace is the first.
The second, and for me the most rewarding thing about this book, is Koethi’s talent for characterisation. Her protagonist, Sarah, is such a fully-realised character that I feel I know her. Sarah begins as a very unlikely heroine. Traumatised after her time in captivity at the hands of a sadistic kidnapper, she is hiding away in her apartment, working from home, having her food delivered, never venturing out from behind her extremely secure front door. She knows she’s messed up and her dry sense of humour is an attractive part of her self-preservation. The journey she takes to go from ex-victim to heroine is both moving and exhilarating and her relationships with the other women with whom she shares her dark history are fittingly complex. They are in no way passive victims, despite their experience, and together they uncover a far darker mystery than even that of their own abduction. I haven’t read a crime thriller involving such strong and individual female relationships for a long time.
The third thing I think is really special about The Never List is that even while it is fulfilling the demands of a brilliant thriller – page-riffling pace, an idiosyncratic detective figure, perverse crimes, an ingenious criminal, coded letters, multi-layered mysteries and edge-of-your-seat scenes – it feels incredibly fresh, both in style and substance. I’ve read many crime novels which end with the door to the cellar thrown open and the weeping, tortured girls finally freed by the hero. This book starts ten years after this moment and makes those girls into the heroes.”
The Never List can be found in most good bookshops and on Amazon.