I received a free physical copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Not in my Name is set in 2003 in a kind of alternate Britain where Tony Blair holds a referendum on whether or not the UK should enter into war with Iraq. By a slim margin of 52%-48%, the yeses win and war is in the offing. There are accusations that the voters were manipulated and tension is running high.
The story follows Phoebe Green, who is an anti-war activist, along with her fellow protestors Xia, Paula, Vince, Cassie, Liam, Gus, Sefu and her sister Mel. The book opens at a protest taking place a few days after the vote. Phoebe and her group are participating at a die-in to try to bring awareness as to why this referendum was such a terrible idea. The scene becomes increasingly volatile. When the police move in to make arrests, Cassie and Paula are able to slip away into the crowd. When Phoebe is interrogated later on at the police station, she learns Cassie has been murdered.
This sends Phoebe into a spiral and she is determined to solve Cassie's murder. The police say the attack on Cassie was random and unrelated to her position as an activist, but Phoebe knows otherwise when she visits the pub where the attack took place. Prior to that, as Phoebe and Mel begin cleaning out Cassie's room on the farm where the activists all live together, she finds clues containing the name Richard Lampart, with a variety of addresses.
Phoebe is disheartened by the seeming lack of interest by the police in solving Cassie's murder. The police conduct raids on their little commune at times and Phoebe is concerned because she believes (rightfully) that there are officers who identify with the far-right protestors who her group often clashes with.
When Phoebe returns from the pub, Sefu informs her that he saw strangers enter the property, near the barns/sheds. As they're talking, they witness Vince being attacked but are unable to get to him in time to save him. He becomes the second victim in what is obviously becoming an attack on their group, presumably by one of the right-wing activist groups they've clashed with at previous protests.
Phoebe and Sefu trap one of the attackers in the barn and he claims he witnessed Vince being killed by someone else, not from his group. The two leave him trapped in the barn to continue their investigation. In the house they find one of Sefu's swords covered in blood.
It becomes clear to Phoebe and Sefu that not everything is as it seems and that among the people they live with, one of them is a murderer.
So, there's a lot going on here, obviously. There's the political tension is clear from the start and the author did a great job laying the groundwork. It was easy to feel that tension not only at the protests where the two groups were at odds, but the tension was still there even in the absence of the far-right groups. This created an unsettling feeling that I was able to feel through Phoebe, as she and Sefu discussed what was going on, before the intruders appeared at the farm.
I did struggle with Phoebe at times though, as she was not always the most captivating of main characters. I can't quite put my finger on why, but there was a disconnect at times between her and I. She was a well-developed character, as was Sefu, and I found myself relating to him more. The secondary characters could be hard to keep track of at times, but that also helped the create the murkiness needed once it was determined that the killer was one of them.
I feel like the conflict translates well to the climate of the US over the last year and a half especially. Even though I am not well-versed in UK politics, that did not hinder me from enjoying the novel because it could easily be something happening here as well. It's all here, the purposeful misinformation spread, the rabid media who just want ratings, and two sides who are so far apart, reconciliation is simply not possible.
Recommended for fans of political thrillers.