Livy, turning up for a pre-arranged lunch date, lets herself into her best friend Julia’s flat and discovers Julia’s body. Julia’s family are satisfied that Julia took her own life – there were no signs of a break-in or struggle and fatal levels of Nembutal in Julia’s system plus a note on her laptop, which had been left on. However, Livy suspects foul play. She is not in denial, but keenly aware that Julia’s strength of character and attitude towards life rules suicide out as an option. Julia’s mother arranges a lacklustre funeral designed to wrap up the tragedy. However, at the funeral, Livy meets Julia’s boyfriend who also doesn’t believe Julia would have taken her own life.
Livy lets herself into Julia’s apartment – they both have keys to each other’s homes in case of emergencies. The police have taken Julia’s laptop, but not her appointments diary. Livy can’t find any other clues. Julia had made an appointment to meet a Shannon in a local night club. Livy goes in Julia’s place, but Shannon makes a quick exit before Livy can find out what the meeting was about. Leaving the club, Livy bumps into Julia’s boyfriend Damian and they move on to a pub. During their conversation it quickly becomes apparent that they both agree Julia’s death wasn’t suicide and both want answers so agree to team up. Damian tells Livy that Julia had turned detective and was trying to solve Kara’s murder.
Kara was Livy’s younger sister who was raped and murdered while at university. Julia blamed herself because Kara went to a party that Julia was supposed to go to and Julia feels if she’d been there, Kara’s death wouldn’t have happened. Livy and her family never blamed Julia. The murder was never solved. Damian tells Livy that Julia had solved the case but wanted to talk to Livy before going to the police. Livy points out that there were no files in Julia’s apartment and the police have her laptop so they have no way of reviewing what Julia had discovered.
Between them, they work out Shannon worked for a honey-trap agency where clients engaged employees to make a date with husbands or boyfriends suspected of cheating. Livy has the perfect set up to get an appointment at the agency. Her husband, Will, had had an affair with a colleague. After much soul-searching, Livy had decided to forgive him, largely for the sake of their two pre-teenage children. So they concoct a story that Livy will say she thinks Will might be cheating again and Damian will barge in to create a scene hopefully giving Livy chance to find out who Julia had engaged to be a honey trap for. Their plan works and they learn two things. Shannon no longer works at the agency and Julia had hired her to trap Will.
On a visit to Julia’s mother, to hand over Julia’s keys and get her keys back, Livy learns that Julia’s mother has burnt Julia’s things including notebooks and her laptop which have been left in the bin bags just off the drive. Julia’s mother accuses Livy of stealing an emerald and diamond ring from Julia’s apartment. Livy denies stealing. After the exchange of keys, Livy leaves, shoving the bin bags in the boot of her car as she does so. Back home, she and Damian try to go through the bin bag contents to see what they can find. Damian thinks the laptop’s hard drive might be salvageable but the remaining embers don’t reveal much. Later, when Damian’s left, Livy sticks his name in a search engine but can’t find anything about him, the results only link to people with the same name.
Livy decides she has to ask Will about Julia’s honey trap. Will reacts angrily, accusing her of not trusting him and denying that Shannon had approached him. While he is at work, Livy gets a call from his manager’s wife who tells her that Will has reignited the affair he had previously. Livy has no reason not to trust what the manager’s wife tells her. Livy searches through Will’s things, trying to find any evident of this affair. Finding none, she puts a load of laundry in the washing machine and discovers she’s out of washing powder. Going to the garage to get more, she realises that the garage makes a perfect hiding place because she rarely goes there. She decides to search. Hidden in a tool box Livy finds Julia’s emerald and diamond ring.
Devastated by her discovers, Livy now has to decide who she can trust. Is Will lying when he denies his affair and how did he get Julia’s ring? Can Damian be trusted to help her prove Julia’s death wasn’t suicide? Can she find Shannon and, if so, can Shannon tell her why Julia hired her to trap Will? Can she trust her own instincts and uncover what Julia found out about Kara’s death?
Layered amongst Livy’s detective work are chapters from Kara’s murderer’s viewpoint, although he is not identified until Livy figures it out. Kara is not his first victim but the one he is most proud of. Like most serial killers, he has a box of mementoes taken from his victims. When he realises that Livy is close to finding out who Julia had identified as Kara’s killer, he decides to make plans for Livy’s death before she works out who he is.
Livy is entirely engaging and sympathetic as someone who’d overcome her sister’s murder, settled into the role of wife and stay at home mother to two children, Hannah just coming up to teenage and Zack is younger, deciding to stay with Will after his affair to give their marriage a second chance. The twists and turns of the plot keep readers guessing and drawn to make the same mistake as Julia. In “Trust in Me” Sophie McKenzie has written a pacey, page-turning thriller that explores a reader’s darkest fears that you may not be able to trust your closest friends and partners when the worst happens, the murder of someone close.
By Emma Lee