Review: The Confession by Jo Spain

“That was us at the beginning of our fairytale. But here’s the thing about fairytales: sometimes they’re darker than you can ever imagine.”



Quercus | 2018

Filed Under: I guess anything can be called a thriller these days.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a “thriller” this unimpressive before. And by that I mean, it’s like the author wasn’t even trying. For real, this was slowwwwwwwww. Boring, even.

I’m in the minority with my opinion and that’s fine. But my opinion is the right one. HAHAHA just kidding (kind of.)

The Confession by Jo Spain is billed as a dark thriller, but it’s really more of a depressing autobiography of the main characters, whose switching POVs we have to endure get to experience; how they got to that moment in 2012 when a banker is getting his head bashed in by a stranger with a golf club. These POVs take us all the way back to childhood in some cases, and quite honestly it was tedious as hell and in most cases, completely fucking irrelevant.

This approach to the storytelling drained all the energy out of the plot, making it feel sluggish, washing out anything that could be considered a shock or a twist.

There was something in the telling of events that lent itself more to realism, and while that is an accomplishment in contemporary novels, this was supposed to be a thriller. The goal is to thrill the reader with the shock of events we don’t experience in real life (hopefully.) This was anything but thrilling unless you consider your own yawns to be a real razzmatazz experience.

The novel started out with a bang of blood and brutality that grabs the reader by the throat when Harry The Banker is viciously attacked while Julie The Wife watches in stunned horror. Think Neegan and Glen. It was some disturbing shit. But that was the first and the last of that kind of entertainment.

That horrifying pace was never maintained. Instead, it settled into a mundane telling of personal events. The path to alcoholism, the troubles of marriage and co-dependence, and the struggle of infertility. The effects of a poor upbringing and the tragedy of mental illness. Nothing about the writing was bad per se, actually it was quite the opposite. The prose provided the reader with a vivid experience and an understanding of the characters at a base level.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t give a shit about them.

you suck melissa mccarthy GIF by Team Coco

There was also a lot of talk about the financial world. How a banker starts a business, becomes rich and then breaks the law to become even richer before causing a financial collapse of a whole country and being tried in a court of law for it. Sound exciting? Yeah, no. It’s not.

If there is anything I am less interested in besides math, it’s finance and wall street type shit. My brain just immediately Zzzzzzzz

When I read a book that isn’t what I expected it to be – either through my own assumptions or the marketing of it – I try to sit back and take a look at it from a different perspective, to have an open mind. Would I like this if it was just a contemporary piece about two lives that intersect in random ways, leading to heartache and profoundly altered lives?

I’m on the fence.

Like, I said the writing isn’t bad. But the characters… ugh. Talk about unlikable. Whiny bitch babies drinking and crying themselves into self-made drama and complaining about rich people problems. That’s a total turn-off to me. I don’t mind troubled or damaged. I do mind endless pity parties, and that’s basically what this felt like. Not even the villain was interesting, lacking any emotions even remotely close to sinister despite trying his best to put on a creepy smile and enjoy the moment. He came across as pathetic instead of an evil mastermind. The “pathetic” aspect was probably honest and closer to the contemporary lane, but his “plan” required an evil streak. The overall effect was disjointed and bizarre as the narrative attempted to take on thriller elements.

In between the personal information, the story was progressing to reveal exactly why JP The Killer attacked Harry The Banker. What random life circumstances led them to this moment?

30 rock whatever GIF

This is the kind of story we’ve seen before – where different POVs slowly reveal a twisted truth with many layers. When this is done right it can blow your mind. Some of my favourite books use this narrative device. But in The Confession – whether it be the choices the author made to build these characters or the amount of background that was required to explain who they were – by the time each “twist” was rolled out I just didn’t care anymore. I found myself thinking, here comes another reveal. And none of it was exciting because I could see it coming.

There was just something about the plot execution that was predictable, uninspired and torpid. Most reviewers seem to be blown away by this book, with a lot of 5-star ratings popping up, but I honestly can’t figure out why even when looking for a new perspective to understand.

This was boring as balls. Wait no, not balls. Balls can be fun. This was as boring as math.

If you like math, and really want to read this, I say go for it. But if you’re more interested in, oh I don’t know, rollercoasters, then move on to something else on your TBR that deserves to be put in the thriller category.

no one cares shut up GIF by Interstellardesignz


Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

Book source: Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley in exchange for a review.

4 thoughts on “Review: The Confession by Jo Spain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s