Cover Image: Alter Ego

Alter Ego

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Member Reviews

“How far would you go to prove your innocence?”

This is definitely a book of two halves, but blend them together and you have a “domestic noir” novel which far belies its debut status.

I do have to be honest though and confess that at about the 25% marker, I was on the point of putting the book to one side, for no other reason than the volume of quite graphic and erotic sex scenes it contained, some of which were fairly violent and unpleasant, although compellingly raw and perceptive, and I just couldn’t see where this journey was leading me. I began to wonder at Alex’s lack of morals and parenting skills, especially as she is, to all intents and purposes, a single mother! A new date almost every night, with her young son Ned being farmed out to a different babysitter each time, and then to hear her bemoaning her lack of control and vowing to become a better mother and put her son first! She just seems to be hellbent on a suicide mission and very much the architect of her own demise.

Just goes to show you how easily fooled you can be, when a consummate storyteller and plot builder, who wields total authority and maturity in their writing, gets their hands on a great idea!

Boy! Am I pleased I decide to keep reading, as I ended up by not being able to turn the pages fast enough, in an effort to find out what happened next, when one of Alex’s dates meets his end and Alex herself is in the frame for his murder. What happened thereafter, all culminated in a tense, edge-of-the-seat finish, which never looked like it was going to end well, despite the perpetrator having been unmasked to me, not by me, at that time. Once the dust settles, and although things are still a little touch and go, there is a small glimmer of hope and optimism for Alex and Ned to build their lives upon going forward, so let’s hope that common sense prevails and leads to a brighter more fulfilled future, which holds more promise than the troubled past they can now hopefully leave behind them.

This multi-layered, intense storyline is a slow burner, which has been beautifully crafted and structured, by an author who totally owns the journey and all the characters she gathers around her. During the first half of the book, the scenery is expertly laid out, with the suspects all taking their places on the stage, and there are many of them, believe me! Red herrings are deliberately placed to trip up the unwary reader, which they did me, several times. And so this game of cat and mouse began. My suspect list was vast and it wasn’t until the identity of the real perpetrator became so obvious that even I couldn’t miss it, could I discard the many other names I still had left to eliminate. So many faces in the frame, so many motives, so many lies and so much deceit, it was like actually being inside a real-life game of ‘Cluedo’

The second half of this tense and textured story deals exclusively with the fallout and aftermath of the crime, when everyone else is busy covering their tracks, leaving Alex to face the music alone. I don’t think I have ever read such a detailed and realistic treatment of a time spent in police custody and the procedural work in processing and progressing an investigation, I was lost in time and physically with Alex all the way through her emotionally draining and soul destroying ordeal. The fluid dialogue was tight, relevant and punchy throughout. The tense narrative, gripping, disturbingly observational and vividly descriptive to the very end; and when the police threw in that one final gut wrenching piece of information for Alex to digest, I think I was as devastated as she was!

As this story was equally driven by both plot and characters, reflecting the nature of modern multiple dating and friendships, the sprawling cast was drawn from a diverse range of classes and walks of life. Many were very emotionally complex, some devious, others downright vindictive and jealous. All were well drawn and defined, so that I knew exactly where I stood with them, even if most were not particularly authentic, likeable or relatable. The only one of this mash up of human wiles and artifices, who still had a rather touching naivety, was young Ned and being under 8 this is probably only to be expected. Even he however, as devoted as he obviously is to Alex, is not above turning a situation to his advantage, to the point that other mothers are stopping their own children from getting involved with him, because of his sometimes feral and selfish ways, which rather obviously stem from his lack of parental supervision during Alex’s binge dating sessions. Despite Alex’s bravado and ‘devil may care’ cavalier attitude, I got the impression that with her multi-faceted personality, perhaps she was the most vulnerable of all the characters. Her volatile emotions and ‘off the wall’ actions are all over the place. She is desperately searching for a sense of belonging and inclusion, and she is clearly yearning for a stable relationship and a traditional family life. I just hope that her complex life can be straightened out and that she can learn to love and hold onto all the good things she has in her possession, rather than letting them slip through her fingers again!

“Revenge is a dish best served cold”
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Enjoyed this one. I felt like there was something missing though, something I needed to love it. Well thought out plot and easy to read.
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Well this certainly kicked off with all the drama!

Single parent Alex Kendrew is juggling life. A freelance photographer and busy mother, she is also dabbling in online dating. After a series of disastrous dates she eventually rekindled a romance with an old flame and everything is going swimmingly. Until she is arrested for the attempted murder of her partner.

Diving in to the arrest in the prologue, we then delve in to Alex's backstory of failed dates and romances. Whilst this was definitely critical to the story I do think it could have been reduced a little. However, when we reach the present say and Alex's arrest I was hooked and couldn't read fast enough.

The characters were well developed and I really did like Alex. She was believable and relatable muddling through every day life and the minefield of dating. 

This was a brilliant domestic noir debut novel that I had become really absorbed in towards the end. I really felt I was sitting in the dingy cell with Alex trying to work out who could have framed her, rather than sitting in front if the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. 

So engrossed was I that my other half had tried talking to me and I hadn't even noticed. But then, I do love a good procedural!

A definite recommendation from me if you like a whodunit and don't mind some descriptive sex scenes. I'm looking forward to more of this author's writing.

Thank you to the publisher for a #gifted digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The story begins with the main character Alex being arrested for the attempted murder of her boyfriend called Mal. The story then goes back to the time they met and the break up due to Mal going back to an old flame. Alex goes back to online dating but things go terribly wrong. That's when this book really becomes a thriller. I really liked this book and would definitely read another book by this author.
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Full review available at Murder in Common:
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This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuously.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
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Alter Ego has some of my favorite elements in a thriller—a London setting and a falsely accused protagonist.

Alex Kendrew, a single mother and photographer, is roused from a pill-induced sleep by her young son, Ned. Police lights and sirens pierce her consciousness, and she’s arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of an old flame. As she protests, we are taken back four years in time to see how Alex has arrived at this point.

Though she loves Ned, Alex seeks fulfillment with a romantic partner, especially after Ned’s father, Sean, proved himself unable to handle the responsibility of a relationship or fatherhood. She turns to online dating, meeting a series of men, and having several steamy sexual encounters. 

Mal, a financial manager, rises above the rest when Alex has an immediate attraction that develops into a deeper connection. Yet, when their intimate evening is awkwardly interrupted, Mal hurriedly leaves, and Alex is devastated when he doesn’t contact her again.

To cope, she throws herself back into online dating and finally finds a man who can compete with Mal’s memory.

The choices she makes, and the guilt that derives from the struggle to balance motherhood, career, and love, propel her inextricably forward to a confrontation with the police and a battle to prove her innocence despite overwhelming evidence. As she enlists her public defender and goes over every memory of the last four years, the stakes become higher, and a prison sentence may be the least of her worries.

I hadn’t thought much about the domestic noir genre until seeing it on the cover of this book, and I learned that in 2013, Julia Crouch was the first who described it: “In a nutshell, Domestic Noir takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely (but not exclusively) with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants.”

As such, Alter Ego spends a great deal of time developing Alex’s relationships and laying the groundwork for her arrest. The narrative really picks up when the story catches up to the prologue, as Alex puzzles out who would want to kill her old boyfriend. I realized fairly early who the antagonist was, but it was interesting to see it play out, and in the final chapters, the tension was nail-biting!
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Any book that name checks Matt Johnson’s The The, and in particular Uncertain Smile, has got to have a lot of things going for it, right? In fact, this book, Alter Ego, the debut thriller from English writer K.A. Masson, is peppered with plenty of musical references throughout its taut narrative, with two of the story’s main characters at one point going through their Spotify playlists and cranking out some banging tunes, with no decade being left out. But it was the The The reference that sat with me. I haven’t listened to this band for some time, and when I’m done writing this review, I will queue up Soul Mining and get all nostalgic.

Alexandra (Alex) Kendrew is a single mother who lives with her young son Ned in suburban London. Estranged from the boy’s father Sean for some time when the novel begins, Alex trawls dating websites looking for love and someone to settle down with. She’s a freelance photographer who juggles her professional and personal life, and during the course of the story, drops balls on a regular basis. Some of her friends question her lifestyle choices and parenting skills, but Alex knows what she’s doing.

Or does she?

When Alter Ego begins, Alex is arrested for the attempted murder of her boyfriend Mal Russell, who was brutally stabbed the night before in the flat he shares with a friend. Alex has been identified by said friend as the woman who she admitted to the flat and subsequently stabbed Mal. Alex doesn’t believe what’s happened to her. There is no way she could’ve done what she’s accused of. She was at home with Ned. The detectives investigating the case don’t believe her, and lock her up in a cell while they collect enough evidence to charge her. Alex’s arrest happens in the first chapter, so there’s an immediacy to the story already. What the author does next is take us back four years and work us through Alex’s life until the time of her arrest.

Alex hooks up with a couple of men she met online, some better than others, but lands on Mal, who appears to be the man of her dreams. Things go pear-shaped quickly when Ned wanders in and catches them in an private but awkward moment. As Mal still holds a candle for a recent ex, he ghosts Alex shortly afterwards. She is distraught, but manages to pick herself up off the floor when Adrian comes into her life. Then things take a really nasty turn, with Adrian turning out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not for the first time, Alex is left with a mess to sort out, but desperate to not be alone, she jumps at the chance of salvation when Mal comes back into her life.

I’ll leave it at that for the plot, for fear of giving too much away. I would prefer to leave you in the more than capable hands of K.A. Masson to take it from here. I had to remind myself that Alter Ego is a debut novel, because it reads like Ms. Masson has had a number of novels under her belt already. She is masterful at holding the story together despite having to fill in a lot of blanks over a four year period. The tension rises with each chapter, and I confess to reading the last third of the book in one late night sitting. I had to find out what happened, and I wasn’t disappointed.

K.A. Masson
One proviso, though: Alex as a character may not appeal to those who prefer their main characters whiter than white, with nary a blemish to their name. But for me, it was important to relate to Alex as a woman troubled by her past and fearful of her future. At times she is the author of her own misfortune, making the same mistakes in dating time and again, without really learning from past behaviour. This is a completely human characteristic. We want things to go well for ourselves, and when our friends point out our failures, we can sometimes take this criticism as a personal insult rather than a learning moment. Ms Masson does well by giving us a deep insight into Alex’s thought processes with her tight first person point of view. We see what Alex sees; we feel what she does; and we want her to do better. She could — and this is something to keep in mind — be an unreliable narrator. Not everthing that happens is what it seems; the same applies to the people around her.

Alter Ego is an intelligent psychological thriller with moments of violence that will make you uncomfortable. Domestic violence is a blight on modern society, and the author brings a lot of research into her story. I seriously look forward to what she writes next.

I wish to thank NetGalley and the publishers for supplying me with a copy of Alter Ego in return for an honest review.
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A domestic noir debut novel that was shocking and realistic throughout. I was glued to my kindle and read it in one day.The characters were believable and fully developed,  Alex was one I really liked. The author has managed to expertly spun the multiple storylines together so cleverly they work perfectly. I was immersed until the last paragraph and the final twist, well, you will have to read the book to see!
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC to write my review.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for allowing me to review this book.

 That is a book is not worth reading, I did not finish it..
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This is an amazing read that gets you straight into the action. With Alex being woken up by her 7 year old son ned because the police are banging on her door.
They have arrived to arrest her for her friend mals murder she has no idea what they are talking about is thus true or not.
We fast forward 4 years to when Alex meets mal and we follow how they grow there friendship. We come back 2 years later to see what is going on in her life and how we get to her being arrested for attempted murder. 
Fast forward to the present day and we watch as Alex tries to work out what is going on and if she didn't kill mal then who did.
This book will grip you to the end.
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I was very excited to start this book and the Prologue was just right but after that two thirds of the book was taken up with dating and relationships of Sandy and it was not thrilling or mysterious in the slightest. It was boring and I skipped most of it to get back to the who-dunnit. Honestly the dating part of the book could've been done in two chapters at most.
But even after that the last third was just as disappointing. Nothing really happened. The best bit was probably the last couple of chapters where the book started to come to life.
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Sorry I could not get into this book at all. I kept persevering but it was just not my cup of tea.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this domestic thriller, it begins with the lead character, Alex, a single mum, being awoken by the police pounding on her door and subsequently arresting her (in front of her young son) for the attempted murder of her lover.
What follows is an exciting, at times sexually explicit, story of internet dating as a single mum who is also a freelance photographer and who is fighting to prove her innocence.

The story goes back a few years and this adds to the suspense as well as enabling the reader to understand the characters and try to work out what may have happened.
It’s well written, thought provoking and thrilling with a solid storyline that maintained my interest throughout. I must admit, I wasn’t sure when I started reading if it was for me, but, gosh, it’s good!

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to preview and congratulations to the author on this excellent read.
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Scary and thrilling are the words I would use to describe this rollercoaster of a book! Highly recommended!
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A satisfactory thriller.  "Alter Ego" by KA Masson starts of with an arrest for attempted murder and then back tracks until we end up at that place and then what unfolds after the arrest.

Masson provides an insight into the dating scene (not particularly pleasant), so really happy when the main character meets someone "normal".

It took a while to work out who the culprit was and then it was a race to the end.
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I really enjoyed this story was gripped from and stayed up all night reading it as i wanted to know what happened - i really like alex and mal and i didnt like Adrian i began to suspect Caroline when they said it was a woman and thinking about who woud do it especially cos she had ned but the end really surprised me and i was shouting at the phone for Alex to win and was so thankfull that she left the dog in the car the police may not have shown up otherwise i feel so sorry for Ned bless him 

However i am only giving it 3☆s as i did get a little bored with the build up and all the dates she went on i know its neccessary to get a background b i just thought it got a bit slow.

Also i just wanted too point out that 
 neds age throughout the book needs looking at

•  at beginning when shes arrested hes 7

• 4 years earlier when he walks in on her an mal hes 4 

• 2 years earlier when mal gets intouch and they just messaging hes 7 

• though when shes talking to mal about ned coming and checking on her after his dream about adrian killing her then hes 6

•  and then hes 7 again when shes putting him to bed just after his nightmare and he tells her he saw her and adrian and about pictures on a computer and from then on...

I just wanted to mention it and thought it was worth looking at cos it was a little confusing at times.
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A domestic noir debut novel that is gritty, realistic and even shocking at times. I was unable to put this book down for any length of time. The characters were believable and well developed, Alex was one I really liked. 
The author has skilfully woven the mutiple storylines together with grace so everything comes together perfectly.
I was hooked until the end, totally absorbed in the book and the final twist is one I did not guess, so all in all a thoroughly enjoyable debut novel I would recommend.Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC to write my review.
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Alter Ego addresses the struggle between trying to be a good mum and playing the dating game, as well as being a domestic thriller. Alex is framed for the attempted murder of her partner and we see the backstory building up to this moment, as she navigates the world of online dating, bringing up her young son, an abusive relationship, and falling in love with Mal. 
KA Masson writes characters well, especially flawed and sometimes horrible characters. The twist it the end of who actually attempted the murder was a real surprise. A great book for anyone looking for some escapist domestic noir.
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Alter Ego by KA Masson 
I give this book 4 stars
Single mum Alex Kendrew is juggling a busy life,looking after her young son Ned, working as an independent photographer and attempting online dating.After a series of disasters she rekindles a connection with someone. But then one morning, the police arrest her for his attempted murder. Someone is framing her; can she prove her innocence as the evidence mounts against her?
A brilliant debut novel that l  just wanted to keep on reading.The storyline and characters were realistic and believable and l really liked Alex.A great domestic noir with lots of pace and l was left guessing till right near the end.(this has quite detailed sex scenes) A recommended read!
With thanks to Netgalley and the author KM Masson for my opportunity to read and review this book
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