Painkiller by N J Fountain is Monica’s story. She is in constant chronic pain after an “accident” five years ago. The majority of chapters are her story (although she may be an unreliable narrator). There are a few chapters written in the third party by others around her. She comes across a suicide note, apparently hers, which she is fairly sure cannot have been written by her. It becomes increasingly obvious that there is information not being shared with the reader.
At times Monica’s story seems quite convincing. She and her Angry Friend, the pain, come over powerfully. I did find the writing style a little odd however that may just be me. A combination of the pain and the medication might well make for disrupted writing and certainly makes for significant memory loss. I did think the writing was insightful at times; the anger, frustration, despair and other emotions aroused in dealing with the constant pain were powerfully drawn.
While Monica was largely convincing as a character I do have reservations about the other key characters in this book. Dominic is her husband and for me is barely two dimensional. Some of his behaviour is far-fetched and simply unbelievable for me. In a sense this apples to Niall another character with chapters in the story. Once again he is not really that credible as a person as far as I’m concerned.
Overall I found myself less than convinced by aspects of this story. However I was always intrigued enough to continue reading. The style of writing was an issue in places; swearing is fine but talking about sex in anything like a straightforward way was not for example. While Monica’s voice was mostly powerful and credible to me the same cannot be said of the other third party chapters.
For me this does have echoes of “Before I Go to Sleep” which I read and loved some time ago. This one was not a book I was actually going to put down and leave unfinished. The ending was powerful and clever enough although some aspect were maybe not fully credible. This book will be loved by many – of that I’m sure. However I do think it could have been better – 3.5/5
Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review