‘Don’t Look Back’ by Jo Spain

Author : Jo Spain
Title : Don’t Look Back
Pages : 400
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : May 11, 2023
Source : Netgalley


For one week, everything in Luke Miller’s life is perfect. Surprised with a belated honeymoon by his wife, Rose, he’s had seven days with her in a Caribbean paradise. It’s more than he ever thought he’d deserve.

But as they pack their bags, Rose breaks down, confessing that on the day they left London, a violent man from her past tracked her down and broke into their home. He wasn’t expecting her to fight back. And, in her terror, Rose killed him. Now there’s a dead body in Luke’s apartment, and only one person he can think to turn to.

Mickey Sheils never expected to hear from Luke again, not after he disappeared the first time. Luke knows Mickey can’t deny a woman who needs help, so she promises she’ll deal with things – she’ll make sure Rose doesn’t have to keep running.

But it turns out, some lies are too big to run from.


Luke Miller’s life is turned upside down when on the last day of an impromptu belated honeymoon his new wife, Rose, tells him she can’t go back home because there’s a dead body in their apartment. The body is that of a violent man who abused Rose in the past. She fled but he tracked her down, and now he’s in a heap on the bedroom floor. Luke can only think of one person who might possibly help them.

That would be Mickey Sheils, whose life’s work is finding safe spaces for women fleeing their abusive partners. Despite the way Mickey and Luke parted all those years ago, Mickey can’t resist a woman in need and promises to help so Rose can stop running.

But of course things aren’t as easy as that. There are skeletons in closets and close guarded secrets that are left to be discovered as the story goes on. Personally, I found that the gist of the tale was somewhat predictable and easy to figure out. However, the bigger picture, motives if you will, eluded me. I didn’t trust these characters. Something felt off about them from the very beginning, even if I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Mickey is the exception to the rule. With her, I merely failed to understand why she would drop everything to help Luke.

There’s quite a bit of traveling around in ‘Don’t Look Back‘. From the Caribbean to England to Ireland and back again. It’s all wonderfully descriptive but that didn’t take away my view that it often felt as if very little was actually happening. And since I quite quickly realised some things weren’t as they seemed, there really wasn’t enough tension in this story for me, no matter how hard the author tried to create some. What Jo Spain does do awfully well is setting a scene. You can actually see things playing out right in front of your eyes, like you’re watching it on television.

Don’t Look Back‘ started with a bang but then unfortunately for me seemed to fizzle right out again. This might be due to the fact that I worked things out too fast, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that same old “reading too many psychological thrillers” thing again. Very few things seem to surprise me anymore. For the most part though, I kept thinking I would gladly have read an entire book about Mickey and her job, but I really didn’t care about Luke and Rose, and whatever things they were hiding from one another.

I’m calling this a blip, as I normally really enjoy Jo Spain’s books. Her writing is always fabulous and addictive, as it is in ‘Don’t Look Back‘. The difficult topic that is tackled here is handled remarkably well. The space is spot on and for a book that is 400 pages long, it actually reads quite quickly. Somehow, this one just didn’t quite work for me but I will eagerly await Jo Spain’s next offering.

Amazon UK (published on May 11th)

My thanks to Quercus and Netgalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

  8 comments for “‘Don’t Look Back’ by Jo Spain

  1. May 9, 2023 at 9:58 am

    I had the exact same ‘blip’ with Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent. Normally love her books but that just did nothing for me. I have Jo Spain to read…hmmm 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May 9, 2023 at 11:13 pm

    Oh dear! I think I’ll hold you responsible if this one turns out to be a dud – my first Jo Spain. That seems fair, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 10, 2023 at 10:16 pm

      How exactly does that seem fair? Enlighten me. 🤨

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 11, 2023 at 1:26 am

        You owe me for the trilogy debacle… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 11, 2023 at 8:40 am


          I shall let this completely illogical connection slide but only because you’re making me feel like I led some kind of important battle to victory. We ride at dawn! 😏

          Liked by 1 person

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