After She'd Gone

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Pub Date 18 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 18 Aug 2022
Head of Zeus, Head of Zeus -- an Aries Book

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Unsettling, gripping and glamorous. A timely psychological thriller about the danger of beauty, the lure of power, and the fierce love of a mother for her son.

Liv keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: she's just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.

Anastasia's life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan to work as a model. She's rich. She's desired. But there's a dark side to the high-pressure catwalk shows; the sun-baked Italian palazzos; the drink-fuelled after-parties hosted by powerful men. Soon, she will do anything to escape.

Selma is a journalist in Oslo. She's investigating scandals in the modelling industry, but can't get her article published. Then a woman goes missing in Sandefjord. Now Selma is about to uncover the biggest story of her life...

Praise for Alex Dahl:

'A true Scandi-noir thriller' Daily Mail
'Unsettling, layered, bold, unpredictable, dark' Will Dean
'Fast-paced and unsettling' Guardian
'It will leave you gasping for air' Rachael Blok

Unsettling, gripping and glamorous. A timely psychological thriller about the danger of beauty, the lure of power, and the fierce love of a mother for her son.

Liv keeps a low profile in Sandefjord...

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ISBN 9781801108263
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)

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Average rating from 24 members

Featured Reviews

I could not put this book down! Brilliantly written characters, twisted timelines, heart stopping fear and emotion, and suspense like you’ve never read before. Chapters alternate between characters and just when you think you can’t take it anymore, another character takes a turn at making your heart race. Finally it all comes together and for a moment that lightbulb moment makes you smile, until you plunge back into the story again and fear for your now beloved characters takes over. This book is all about the people and seeing the seedy side of the modelling industry through their eyes, as well as crimes committed by the power brokers of the industry. Thank you so much to Netgalley for the advance reader copy of this gem.

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This has kept me engrossed for the last few days. I love Alex Dahl's books and this lived up to expectations. While it does become obvious fairly quickly what the connection between Liv and Anastasia is, it is interesting to watch the plot unfold. I really enjoyed the different characters, particularly Adrian and Selma. The various settings too were very real. A great read.

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Single mother Liv would do anything for her son Adrian, she keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway to help keep him safe.

Anastasia's life is transformed when she's moves from Yekaterinburg, Russia to Milan and starts modelling. Suddenly she's rich, but she learns there's a dark side to this life.

Selma is a journalist in Oslo looking into the unsavoury underside of the modelling world when she learns of the disappearance of a single mother and her son in Sandefjord.

Having read all of Dahl's work written in English, in my opinion this is her best work to date. We get a wide range of characters and there's some autism spectrum disorder and deaf representation (can't personally speak on the accuracy of the representation). This is a gripping dark, twisty and at times emotional (at one point I couldn't see the words through my tears) read.

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I loved this it was completely gripping. It was twisty, unpredictable and kept me guessing all the way through. It kept me on the edge of my seat, breathless all the way through.

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Oh my goodness! I have only just recently discovered Alex Dahl as an author but have added the other novels I’ve not read to my Kindle wish list. I was so thrilled to be approved to read this early as I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. The premise was an unusual one that I knew would hook me in & with twists & turns galore, I loved it. I have also pre-ordered it for when it is published. Would definitely recommend.

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An excellent psychological thriller that will leave you gasping for breath. Murder, mayhem and mystery that was hard to put down. The brilliant story is told through the eyes of Liv, a mother who will do anything for her son, Adrian her young son who battles with autism, Selma, an investigative journalist who cannot let a story go, and Anastasia, a catwalk fashion model in demand by the rich and powerful seeking a way to escape. Accolades to Alex Dahl and the team at Head of Zeus. Powerful, twisty and unsettling ... well worth five (5) stars.

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This book was intense from the first few pages. I loved the main character as she was written. Definitely someone not to mess with. Easy to read and full of thrills.

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Thank you to NetGalley, Alex Dahl and Head of Zeus for giving me the opportunity to read After She’d Gone in exchange for an honest review.

The cover intrigued me right away. It is simple, not too busy, clear but not giving any clues away if what to expect.

I was very sceptical at first, I have to admit. The first chapter felt like it was dragging, but the book quickly picked up.

The story is old from multiple point of views, first and third person. I have always been a sucker for the first person POV. We meet the main characters, mother Liv who hides her past from her young son Adrian, who is also a featured character. Then we have the young, once poor model Anastasia and last, feature journalist Selma.
The plot takes part mostly in Italy and a Norway. We get to see the dark side of Modeling, behind the glamour. A dark side. What I found especially interesting was Adrian who has special needs. I am on the fence with autism and some kind of mutism? Not sure anymore if it was mentioned, correct me if I am wrong. Not sure anymore if the diagnose was mentioned or if I “diagnosed” him. People with disabilities always hold a special place in my heart and I love reading about them. So plus points for that aspect.

I also liked that we got so many glimpses from different perspectives. The characters were well rounded and thought out. Sonia the whole book actually. I was sceptical at first, but this is a winner! Recently I have read very few five star books, this definitely is one!

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This book is an absolute winner. It expertly weaves the story of three women that culminates in a masterful plot. You absolutely will not be disappointed with this amazing read!

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I really really enjoyed this book. It hooked me from the very beginning and kept me hooked the entire time.

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Beautifully written and very tense,

After She'd Gone is a wonderful story that has lots of twist and turns!

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There are three main characters in this book and all of them intrigued me. There is Liv, mother of Adrian who is hiding secrets from her son which could change their lives. Then we meet Anastasia, a young model trying to build a career but who may be getting involved with the wrong man, how will this change her life? And then we have Selma, a young journalist hell bent on tracing the truth.

This book really does hold your attention and takes you in, a really strong storyline that keeps you turning the pages to find out what will happen to all these brilliant characters. Alternating chapters of the three main players keep you fully engaged, there is suspence and lots of twists that all lead to a fabulously satisfying ending.

I highly recommend this book to other readers and want to thank Netgalley, the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest unbiased review.

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This is a fantastically written and entirely engrossing read about the dark exploitative side of the modelling industry. The characters are drawn beautifully and the individual storylines are deftly woven. A breathtaking read I gobbled up to get to the end and now will read at a more leisurely pace to soak up the beautiful writing. Have already downloaded more by the author! A genuinely brilliant novel.

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Thanks to Netgalley and House of Zeus for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book is told from the perspectives of 3 women, Anastasia, a young Russian who has just been discovered for a modeling career; Liv, who is living a quiet life with her son in Norway; and Selma, a journalist who is investigating Liv’s disappearance even though everyone else thinks Liv simply took her son and ran.

This was such a welcome book after dnf’ing my last 2 books, which is more than I usually DNF in a year. This one held my interest from start to finish. I couldn’t figure out the exact connection between the stories and once I did, I still wanted to know how it all played out. I also love stories that take place in one or many exotic locations and this one was all over Europe and even into the Maldives. The author obviously has vast knowledge of these various destinations. Great read. I will keep this author on my radar.

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4.5 rounded up

The book starts in a dramatic, emotional and very tense way that jolts you and there’s very little let up throughout. This is one rollercoaster read.

We start in Sandefjord, Norway with a wonderful nine year old boy, Adrian Carlsen who is autistic and an elective mute in certain circumstances.
He adores watching the planes coming in and out of Torp airport. His mother Liv is loving and they share the most marvellous bond that warms your heart. However, it is apparent that Liv has a secret life of which Adrian is blissfully ignorant and which brings trouble to their door. Switch to Milan and the focus is on beautiful model Russian Anastasia whose fabulous looks draws the attention of major fashion houses but also of powerful men. Finally, there’s journalist Selma Ericksen (from ‘Playdate’) whose investigative journalism uncovers a horrifying world for some girls who believe they have found a route out of poverty through modelling. How do these characters and their stories connect?

Wow. I think this is Alex Dahl’s best book to date.
The portrayal of Adrian is outstanding as you feel his pain, his fear and his dread with his feelings seeming so raw and what the lovely little chap ends up going through breaks your heart as it’s all so powerfully palpable. Liv is clearly a wonderful mother and her love of Adrian shines brightly through the pages and everything she does is for him. The less I say about some of the others the better though there are unexpected surprises which redeems them.

There is an excellent sense of place, the atmosphere created is terrific with the cold of Norway matching the chill of events and as things heat up the focus is only on Italy. A very odd but undoubtedly unsettling sequence of events builds and the mystery grows around certain characters and your blood runs cold. The danger is intense there’s unbelievable cruelty as there are characters without a trace of humanity or morality.

It’s exciting, gripping, your jaw drops in places and hold your breath in others, you pray and keep your fingers crossed that justice will be served. It’s a dark intense tale with several twists that build to a satisfying end. I do figure out part but I’m so caught up in the drama that it matters not one jot.

Overall this is a very good thriller which I recommend.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Head of Zeus/ Aries for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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Oh my goodness! It’s a serious crime to give this book less than five stars but I have to warn the things you’re gonna read make your blood run extremely cold! The graphic violence, abuse, honest approach to trafficking, drugs, dark side of the fashion industry are only a few several triggering subjects you have to digest! This book is not for everyone!

The storytelling, characterization, the way of author’s unfolding the entire mystery were pure perfection! But I advise you also read the authors previous book: “ Playdate”: it’s about the mysterious disappearance of seven years old Lucia Blix who is last seen at overnight play date. We’re introduced to Selma Eriksen at first time in that book: she’s a unique reporter with her sharp investigating skills, at the spectrum, seeing things from different approach which help her to solve the crimes and bring justice.

In this story: Selma is back alongside highly interesting POVs, having a huge credibility as the person who brought Lucia Blix back at her home to unite with her family.

Here are the main POVs:
Liv: a deaf single mother, raising her son Adrian who is neurodivergent. Liv tells people she works as a cleaner but she seems like keeping secrets, hiding from someone, doing some shady business on computers she’s set up at a remote farm place she’s rented.

Her son Adrian: smart, introvert, loyal boy, being bullied and outcasted by his peers, living in outskirts of little Norwegian town, mostly spending his time indoors after school, suffering from loneliness till her mom comes home to talk with him in their secret language.

We’re also introduced to Anastasia, coming from impoverished part of the city, after losing her mom she’s rescued by her grandmother, being taken to a monastery in the wilderness of of Krasotski Maga. When she’s been discovered by a talent agent, her life completely changed. Now she’s in Milan, starting her dream life, modeling for Gucci, Bottega Veneta, flying on private jets for photo shoots in Maldives. But she has no idea everything comes with a price. And can she afford to pay it in expanse losing her dignity?

And Selma is already covering a story about the dirty face of fashion industry where the girls from small towns are discovered by talent agencies, turning into cat walking stars attending endless, mostly fruitless castings by day, and entertaining wealthy men at upmarket private clubs or house parties by night. But her story is revoked by the owner of the newspaper and her boss Olev sends her to investigate a mother and son’s disappearance story which connects her with Liv and Adrian.

Do you want to know what she will find out! Just grab your copy and start turning the pages!

Smart twists, so many what the heck, jaw dropping moments later, you will get your answers by screaming “ why I didn’t see it coming! Am I dump?”

Overall: this book is extremely tense. Things you’re gonna read will make hot extra nervous, agitated. But it’s also bold, dark, moving, gripping, unputdownable, well structured. It’s worth to go to the dark side!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.

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I was given this book by NetGalley for an honest review
What a book!
Antasia begins a modeling career and makes it big unlike some who try modeling and end up as escorts or worse. She is desired, he wants her perfect or there is abuse. She wants out.
Selma, a journalist is doing a report on modeling, drugs, girls as escorts, and girls that go missing.
Liv and Adrian are hiding out in Norway - when they suddenly go missing. What happened? Who took them? Can Selma save them? She must dig into the story and find a way!

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what a fantastic read, thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. I could not put it down.

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One isn't necessarily better than the other, and it's not always the case, but there is often something more urgent and frightening about a thriller that has some basis in real world events that involve human suffering. I'm thinking of something like Will Dean's The Last Thing to Burn, which had a case of people trafficking at the centre of it, and there's a similar kind of crime and human exploitation in Alex Dahl's After She'd Gone. Human trafficking can take many forms however and not all are obvious, even to the victim until it is too late. For some, they appear to have landed in a fairy-tale only for it to descend into a living hell with no escape.

That kind of crime may even be more frightening and contemporary in its concerns because it's dealing with young women being exploited and abused - and in some cases murdered - by members of a rich and exclusive set. Here we read about young beautiful women from Eastern countries who are being offered modelling careers, walking catwalks for designer brands, being jetted off to exotic locations for photo shoots and invited to exclusive parties. Few of them know what they are letting themselves in for, too dazzled by the extraordinary change of fortune of being dragged out of poverty in remote villages.

Selma - who was introduced by Dahl in her previous book Play Date - is a Norwegian journalist working on just such a story only to find it blocked from publication by the owners of the paper. There are clearly influential people who don't want something like this being reported, or perhaps there are concerns about litigation. Either way, the story is quashed and Selma is asked to cover an inquiry closer to home. It's a seemingly more mundane case of the disappearance of a deaf woman Liv and her nine-year-old autistic son Adrian, but there are strange elements to the disappearance, which seems more like an abduction. Selma might not have felt the need to dig too deeply into this but for the fact that she notices connections to the big fashion industry story she has been working on.

There are a few strands to After She'd Gone, all of which evidently converge, and do so quite dramatically and thrillingly. We get the insider perspective of the glamour and the horror of young women caught up in the modelling business from Anastasia, a young woman from central Russia who has been plucked from poverty and engaged to an Italian Prince. Evidently, there is going to be no fairy-tale ending, but there is growing surprise and horror at just how her story plays out. No less terrifying is the journey that Liv and Adrian undergo, and as far as Selma's investigation goes, time is clearly of the essence. Just how important and just how those stories intersect may not surprise everyone, but there are definitely some shocks along the way.

And, as I suggested, those shocks really hit home when you consider that they reflect the true lived experiences of many vulnerable young women. Alex Dahl - the author born in Oslo, half-American and half-Norwegian - succeeds not only in keeping the different international stands of After She'd Gone moving forward, each compelling in their own way, but the story manages to tap into the real human cost of exploitation, without falling into the trap of being exploitative itself. The author doesn't shy away from the true nature of the abuse that these women are subjected to, the traps they face and the often tragic outcome in what is a no less horrific form of human trafficking. This definitely gives the novel an edge of realism, which as it moves into more conventional thriller territory only intensifies what it at stake here.

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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review

I loved this book more than her other books. Sex trafficking theme was very unique and engaging – I had to see how it would end. The characters were well rounded and the narrative felt believable. Gave me chills. Solid five

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