Beat the Rain

Beat the Rain

In the competitive world of contemporary women's fiction, psychological thrillers are currently topping the charts, with multi-million best-sellers including Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, and Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins among others.

But in a field dominated, understandably, by female writers comes debut author Nigel Cooper to prove he too can compete with the best.

And the good news is that he succeeds, rising where most male authors stumble - if they dare try at all - in the realization of a complicated, compelling female protagonist.

His novel, Beat The Rain - a semifinalist in this year's Goodreads Choice Awards - is a gripping and twisting tale of a dysfunctional couple whose inexorable domestic disintegration is mirrored in their mental collapse with tragic consequences.

Louise and Adam are grappling with major issues and baggage in their lives.

Brought together through the death of Louise's boyfriend and Adam's twin brother, Tom, they defy the skepticism and resistance of both their families to carve out a relationship fueled by a mutual need for solace and healing.

They marry and start a family, but soon the pressures that arise from their wounded backgrounds begins driving them apart.

Hit by post-natal depression, Louise becomes increasingly muddled and confused and experiences flashbacks to her troubled childhood which saw her father die and her mother abandon her.

Despite having secretly having been in love with Adam while dating Tom, she begins to see her marriage as unsalvageable and looks to find comfort elsewhere.

She meets a man called Jarvis in the café she owns and faced with an instant attraction and intrigue, she cannot help but become gripped by his life.

Jarvis, however, does not seem to share her feelings and due to her turbulent and troubled state, Louise's fascination soon descends into voyeurism.

Louise decides to get closer to Jarvis by introducing him to her husband, merely as a ruse to spend more time with him.

Convinced that Jarvis is in love with her, her erratic mind begins to picture a future together, but Jarvis is in love with someone else - and more than this, has a secret and shocking agenda of his own.

It is not just Louise that is falling apart, however.

Adam too has his demons. As his marriage continues to spiral he falls into alcoholism, riven with feelings of inadequacy. Retreating into the bottle, however, only helps push the couple further apart.

To say any more would be to spoil the cataclysmic finale, but it's not difficult to understand why this novel has been gathering glowing praise.

Not only is it a triumph in its narrative style, alternating chapters between Louise and Adam to share differing perspectives of the same events, its prose is restrained and deeply moving, managing to elicit empathy for the characters even in light of their many flaws and frailties.

A kitchen sink drama for the 21st century, it draws in readers into an absorbing page-turner with a simple moral: the grass isn't always greener.

Although overlain with a sense of impending doom, Beat The Rain is also peppered with humour, buffering the heaviness with a more light-hearted tone and allowing the reader some breathing space.

A unique love - or better, a 'fall out of love' story - set in the cracks of the grimy every day, this psychological thriller is a rollercoaster of a read. Who would have thought that the seven-year itch could become a potentially deadly disease.

Beat The Rain (Roundfire Books) by Nigel Jay Cooper is out now in paperback, priced at £10.99 or £4.99 for an eBook. For more information, visit www.nigeljaycooper.com .