Exit Five From Charing Cross by Valerie Keogh is told in first person. Jake Mitchell begins his story by talking about missed opportunities and wonderful lives almost lived. “A life like mine.” We find out he’s at work at his dream job where he’s worked eight years. He set out to be rich and achieved his goal. “money was God.” But now business has dried up and he’s struggling to hold on. He leaves work to meet his best friend Adam at a café at Charing Cross. Sitting outside the café, is a woman he’s instantly attracted to and hopes to see again.
After this initial opening Jake goes back in time and tells us how he met Adam, and then about his family. Over the course of the book we learn of the lies he told and how, once they were told, he had to keep lying to keep his secrets. One poor decision led to another as Jake set out to build a “wonderful life”. At the end of chapter four he says, “Didn’t know then, in my enthusiastic youth, that every little action, choice and deed had a consequence.”
What makes this book interesting is how we see the world through Jake’s eyes and hear his inner thoughts. We learn why he lied and what led to the destructive decisions he made.
The book was an enjoyable, quick read with a haunting quality to it. The story twists and turns in interesting ways and has a surprise ending. I reminded of the recent movie Gone Girl in that things are always what they appear.
I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers. It’s well written with a strong plot and well developed characters.