Midway through Double, the novel’s narrator—at this point beginning to fear (rightfully) for his life—thinks about his new family, “Maybe none of them were what they seemed. Maybe it wasn’t just me.” The stark contrasts between appearances and reality, between expectations and intentions, form much of the thematic backbone—not to mention the suspenseful framework—of Valentine’s mind-bending thriller.
Our 16-year-old narrator, known only as “Chap,” is on his last legs, in a homeless shelter, locked up for fighting, when he’s recognized by one of the case workers. She shows him a missing persons photo of Cassiel Roadnight, a boy who could be Chap’s twin. Seduced by visions of Cassiel’s comfortable home, of a family who misses and longs for him, Chap eases, almost without thinking about it, into Cassiel’s life.
The two boys look so much alike that Chap fools almost everyone. But as he settles into Cassiel’s small town and starts learning more about Cassiel’s disappearance, he begins to realize that he might be in as much danger as Cassiel once was.
Marked by a complex revenge plot and multiple hairpin turns, enriched by Chap’s recollections of the one person he’s ever loved, Double is both a relentlessly thrilling suspense novel and a wrenching character study. Author Jenny Valentine has won multiple awards in her native Great Britain, and it’s about time that U.S. readers learn more about her. With Double, Valentine’s second novel to be published in the United States (after Me, the Missing, and the Dead), she should find the wider audience she so well deserves.