The Only Weapon in the Room by B Baskerville
Sisters tell each other everything. Don’t they?
Athena Fox works as a professional fighter in the north of England. It’s not your usual 9-5, and on tough days she’s happy if she can walk home unaided. When Athena’s sister, Molly, takes her own life a year after their mother’s death, Athena suspects grief isn’t the real reason. Especially when she finds Molly’s diary and discovers a list of men in the back cover.
Her suspicions grow as one by one Athena traces the men and she soon finds herself on a twisted path of violence and self-doubt. With a title fight to prepare for, the eyes of the world are on Athena. She should be concentrating on her training, but she cannot help herself. Athena must know the truth about Molly, even if the answers put her in harm’s way.
Reading a new book can be a nervous proposition, but after the first chapter, I knew I was in safe hands with this one. We're quickly introduced to the main characters Athena and Kris. Their relationship is expertly drawn and while there is little doubt as to where it is heading, how they get there kept me hooked.
The secondary characters – mainly a ragtag team of cage fighters – add a great deal to the story. Their chemistry and camaraderie is heartfelt, reflecting the author's insight into Mixed Martial Arts. They're fun, serious and determined – the kind of people I want to spend time with.
The writing is assured, delivering action like an upper cut to the jaw while switching between this and more studied character development. There was a particularly tender scene with Homeless Harry that made me well up.
What sets this book apart are some of its themes. The book goes beyond being just an action thriller. It explores the distance between physical hardness and mental fragility. Mental health issues are universal and can affect cage fighters and ordinary citizens alike. Discussing this topic in genre-based writing is not easy. Here it works, lending the issue the space it needs without compromising on narrative.
The climatic fight scene is charged with anticipation and comes with a killer twist.
There were so many threads explored that only a talented author could bring them together. Code-breaking. MMA. Romance. Suicide. Thriller. It's extraordinary that the nuts and bolts of the writing remain hidden. I read this book in four days and loved every minute of it.
The Only Weapon in the Room by Betsy Baskerville is available on Amazon. Should you enjoy it, please leave a review. It makes a big difference to the author.