Imagine you murdered your husband and seemingly got away with it for a decade before a popular podcast decides to reopen the case. Now imagine your life was turned upside down when your husband was murdered and all you want to do is move on, but a popular podcast decides to reopen the case. Kind of a lose-lose either way, right?
That’s the gist of Possession: A Novel by Katie Lowe.
Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband Graham was brutally murdered in their London home, and she (maybe conveniently) doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone—a small-time burglar and total stranger—and put him away for life, as Hannah packed up her then-6-year-old daughter and left for a small town in the country.
Now, Hannah, her daughter and her fiancé are living a quiet life away from the city, as Hannah has returned to work as a psychologist. But her hard-won peace is threatened when a viral true-crime podcast, Convictions, turns its attention to Graham’s murder for its new season. Convictions, as its name kind of suggests, is known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned. Though a man was charged and convicted, the podcast’s hosts and fans aren’t sure. They suspect that Hannah has more suspicious secrets than just her memory loss, including citations at the clinic where she worked, dependencies on alcohol and pills and a mentally ill grandmother who was locked away in a Gothic insane asylum until her death.
As the episodes air, Hannah’s downward spiral accelerates, and she loses the trust of everyone she loves when secrets from her past—and the possibility that the police framed the man convicted of the crime—are revealed.
Beyond the hallmarks of the genre, Lowe touches on the very modern and very real issue of online mob mentality. Quickly, the show’s rabid fanbase chooses a side—maybe the wrong side—and sets out to make Hannah’s life a living hell. Though not the point of the novel, it’s an interesting aside about how in today’s social media–driven world, the search for justice can easily transform into an electronic lynch mob.
With an unreliable narrator, a woman on the verge of a mental breakdown and a good old-fashioned murder, Possession fits snugly among the ranks of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Attica Locke. And yes, it would make a deliciously thrilling movie too. (With Thandie Newton as Hannah, please.)