One chapter left to edit, then it’s a matter of printing off all the pages and reading through. What will I do in my spare time then? It’s all a bit scary. One and a half years of slog, 330 pages of slog.
It is the first day of Jo’s holiday in sun-drenched Sri Lanka. Raquel befriends Jo, (calling herself Rach). She takes her to a beautiful beach far from the hotel where she steals Jo’s passport and money then checks out of the hotel before Jo can get back. Everyone at the hotel, including Senaka, a hotel worker who lost his family in the tsunami, seems to like Rach who is known to them as Raquel. No-one believes she’s the thief. Jo is spooked by this and by sightings of Rach as well as anonymous phone calls. She feels she can’t trust anyone at the hotel. Added to this, Mark, who she’s lived with for two years, is difficult to get hold of. He is a nurse and had to cancel his holiday because there was a ‘flu outbreak and staff shortages but Jocan’t understand why he isn’t more sympathetic about her present dilemma. Before she leaves Sri Lanka Senaka tells Jo that Raquel not only knows Jo but has told him she will see her in the UK. These words haunt her over the following two weeksOnce back home, Jo begins to suspect Markknows Raquel. Little does she know that the real reason he cancelled his holiday was because he’d had a fling with her and knew she’d be in Sri Lanka too. Mark doesn’t know that Raquel was scheming to harm Jo and that she suggested Sri Lanka and the hotel to Jo’s mother whom she met by chance when Mark and Jo had been arguing where to take a holiday. Jo is followed by the same black car several times and sees Raquel outside the house. Mark uses the terminal illness of his father as a reason for not engaging in any discussion about Raquel and implies that Jo is imagining it all. No one believes her. Not even her ‘hippie’ motherwith whom Jospent her childhood travelling round Asia. Jo begins to wonder if Raquel is an ex-client with a grudge from when she used to work as a Housing Officer. She contacts Rob an ex-colleague, an IT man who is still employed there and with whom she had a relationship. Rob and Jo still love each other, though she doesn’t admit this to herself. She is haunted by her past with him, when she drank and experimented with drugs at a party causing a fall from a window, which permanently injured her.Rob finds Raquel’s old case notes and Jo goes to his flat to collect them, but discovers he only has one page of Raquel’s file. It is apparent that the woman has many aliases and was suspected of arson. Also Jomade an error of judgement on her case when she was the manager. Rob agrees to find the rest of the file but when they meet again it’s the wrong case notes. Jo is angry with Rob over this and won’t speak to himwhen he tries to phone her.Jo finds further evidence that Mark knows Raquel but he always manages to dodge her questions. When his father dies she feels she cannot continue to ask him though she knows he’s not telling the truth. Jovisits the shop beneath which Raquel used to live and discovers that Raquelsells ethnic jewellery at the local market. She finds the stall but not Raquel.A few days later, Jo receives a phone message from the hospital receptionist where Mark works, telling her she must get home immediately. When she gets there, Raquel is in the bedroom threatening to burn the house down. Jo manages to get out. A car chase ensues and Raquel crashes into a lorry. Meanwhile Rob has been trying to warn Joabout Raquel. He has the file and has discovered she is very dangerous. Although this information comes too late, Jo realises her true feelings for Rob and they arrange to meet.Raquel is in Critical Care with serious burns. In the hospital canteen, Mark tells Jo the truth about Raquel. He leaves Joalone in the canteen for a while and Jo realises she cannot trust him again and that their relationship is over. She knows Rob is the man for her.When Mark returns he tells her that Raquel has died. Jo feels strangely reconciled with her as she realises that indirectly she’d helped her decide which direction her life should take.