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How To Play Dead

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  189 ratings  ·  122 reviews

She's watching over them. And he's watching her...

Ria Taylor is everything to everyone. Wife and mother, the centre of her family. And the manager of a refuge for women whose partners have driven them out of their own homes.

But one night, with her husband away, Ria receives a terrifyingly sinister message. Someone is watching her. Someone who seems to know everything

Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 7th 2019 by Atlantic Books
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
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Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Today (13/9/2019) the BBC news headline is ‘Domestic Violence murders surged to five-year high’ and so that makes this book all the more relevant. Inevitably, this is not an easy read because of the domestic violence theme and one character is raped but it highlights so clearly the control that perpetrators exert over their partners and their children and it is very chilling. The story is told from the perspective of Ria Taylor who runs a domestic abuse charity called SafeMe and via a diary from ...more
Louise Wilson
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ria is the manager at SafeMe, a refuge for abused women. Her husband, Danny has went to work on an international contract. They have two children. Ria is sent a burner phone at the refuge not long after Danny had left to fulfill his months contract. Ria starts getting sinister messages on the phone telling her she's being watched. Is she being threatened because of the work she doesn't? Or is there something in her past that's finally caught up with her.

For me, this is quite a predictable read b
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, kindle, thriller
I received this book from the author/publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ria Taylor has dedicated her life to helping women suffering from abusive relationships and runs a special women's shelter in desperate need of council funding. When Ria begins to receive strange messages, she ignores it at first, presuming it's the ex of one of her clients seeking petty revenge. But as the messages become more threatening and the stranger begins to infiltrate Ria's family life, she be
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ria Taylor is the manager of SafeMe a domestic abuse charity helping women and their children start new lives. Ria puts 100% into helping these women while desperately trying to find funding to keep the charity afloat.

The book counts down to the return of her husband Danny, who is in Dubai for 29 days as a shop fitter. The money he will earn will get them out of debt and hopefully provide a deposit to purchase a house.

When Ria receives a mobile phone in the post she starts getting messages say
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about domestic abuse, the victims, the abusers and the crimes, there is also a short section where a sexual assault/rape is described, pertinent to the ongoing story, this is a hard hitting story that actually felt like an autobiography, not light hearted or an easy read for a lot of the book

Ria runs SAFE ME, a home for survivors of domestic abuse and their families and this book deals with the centre, with Ria’s life, some of the women and children who live there, funding issues, s
Bex (Beckie Bookworm)
This one really wasn't for me at all, I thought this was going to be an edge of your seat psychological thriller and it was more a drama centring around a refuge with some suspense thrown in.
The terror and mystery for me was the secondary concern here with the everyday mundanity of Ri's life at home and work taking centre-stage.
It was at heart a story focusing more on its relationships and connections and less on the mystery and suspense.
The story spotlights Ri a mother and wife who works
★★★★ 3.5 to 4 stars

This was a difficult book for me to read in some ways, having been a survivor of domestic abuse, and I found myself overwhelmed with a range of emotions from tear-filled sadness to complete rage. Although my own experience was not like Sheila's or even Tanya's, it was just as horrendous and frightening at the time. So in reading this book, it brought up all the old memories and there were times I questioned whether I could finish it or not.

So it goes without
Susan Hampson
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This is a story of abusive relationships, the shelter they can seek safety in and the effect that it has on the whole family. It is graphic, hard-hitting bottom line reading with no holds barred so some readers may find it too upsetting. The story is told by two characters, Ria is the manager of 'Be Safe', a refuge for families that have escaped an abusive home and Tanya who is living in an extremely abusive relationship.
Ria's husband is working away from home when she is sent a cheap mobile and
A slow burner but a good holiday read. A thriller that was predictable saying that I am sure other readers will enjoy it more just not for me.
I would like to thank the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thrillers
How to Play Dead – A book that makes you think

It is not often that I have to stop and think about a book I am reading. It has taken me five days after finishing the novel to decide how I can best express what I felt and thought about this book. How to Play Dead is an excellent story, something that will leave a deep impression on you.

For a man to read a book that deals with domestic violence, both physical and psychological it has deeply affected me. I have had to think of my own behaviour and a
How to Play Dead by Jacqueline Ward is a wonderful psychological thriller.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Corvus, and the author for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this novel. This review was written voluntarily.

Ria Taylor has it all - a loving husband, a job she is passionate about at a women's refuge, known as Safeme, and two beautiful children, but having a little more financial freedom would make her life a whole lot easier. So when her husband, Danny, is off
Fay Flude
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A clear 5 star read for me. The book is about the complexities of domestic abuse and the way in which women can be controlled and manipulated to such an extent that they are trapped, live in fear and suffer violence and psychological damage. There might not be a key locking these women behind a door but still they are unable to escape and be free. The book is not autobiographical or a self-help manual. It is a highly readable and enjoyable work of fiction. That isn't to say the topic isn't distr ...more
My thanks to Atlantic Books Corvus for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘How to Play Dead’ by Jacqueline Ward in exchange for an honest review.

This domestic noir dealt with a number of difficult and sensitive subjects including sexual assault, gaslighting, domestic violence, and stalking.

Ria Taylor is the co-manager of SafeMe, a domestic violence refuge. When her husband, Danny, takes a lucrative one month overseas contract that will get their family out of debt, Ria is left missing him. Then she recei
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story that centres around Ria who manages a refuge for women known as SafeMe. She is often confronted by angry husbands and boyfriends and is great at giving out advice, but this is advice she does not follow when she herself is the target of malicious calls and texts.

There is also a second story-line with this book, it comes in the form of a diary entries from Tanya. She is keeping a diary of abuse and control from her partner, while the abusive relationship provides a link to the m
Sarah W 🍂🍁🌧🌬
Firstly thank you to Net galley and Atlantic Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Working within a charity which deals with domestic violence I was interested to see if the portrayal of a women's shelter would be accurate, and the author did not disappoint. I have not read many novels which are set within this type of environment, and I found it to be enjoyable and informative without being overly descriptive (which could be a trigger for readers who have experienced domestic vi
Linda Hepworth
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ria Taylor runs SafeMe, a refuge and support centre for women (and their children) who have suffered domestic abuse at the hands of their partners. She is married to Danny, with whom she has two children, and she cherishes the loving relationships within her nuclear family and will do all she can to protect them. She is equally passionate about offering a safe and caring environment for the women she cares deeply about, always prepared to work hard on their behalf, including devoting time to the
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very hard hitting book on the subject of domestic violence . The story is quite predictable but even so it will strike a chord with the reader due to the subject matter .
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to Play Dead by Jacqueline Ward was an outstanding book.

A difficult topic to cover and some parts were quite traumatic to read but if it makes people more aware about Domestic Abuse then its worth it!

The main character Ria was very likeable and you really felt for her thoughout the story.

Definately a 5 star review as I didnt want to put the book down.

Thanks to Netgalley, Atlantic Books and Corvus for the ARC.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've struggled to rate this one!

The storyline was totally predictable and very sluggish in places, long winded and in all honesty quite boring, the actual story centering around domestic violence will stay with me for a very long time.

It felt like the detail that was needed was brushed over and the ending was rushed.

The characters are likeable and easy to sympathise with and you feel yourself getting angry about lack of justice and protection when its needed the most.

BUT the fact that Jaqueline
Karen Barber
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Ria is a driven character, yet she does the very things she warns the women she works with not to do. This is a little frustrating, and her background story also showed she was as much a victim as the women she works with which also made me feel the story-lines/ideas merged just a little too conveniently at times.
As one of the workers at SafeMe, a refuge for women fleeing domestic abuse, Ria is used to hearing some awful stories. She is used to waiting for someone to feel safe enough to tell the
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And the NetGalley reviewathon continues! Thank you to @netgalley and the author/publisher for sending me an ARC of this thriller. Before I start my review I'm going to warn potential readers that this can be a triggering book and I certainly found it a difficult read. Strong themes run through this novel of domestic violence, psychological and sexual abuse and victimization. However on the flip side it also highlights the wonder of love, family, strength, charity and survival. I loved the main c ...more
Amy Littleford
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Firstly, I would like to thank Readers First and NetGalley for gifting me an ARC for an honest review.

This book comes with a huge trigger warning surrounding domestic abuse. I think Ward handles the topic well and is providing insight into the lives of survivors and victims to educate readers and spread awareness. The story follows the MC Ria who helps run a refuge for women that finds herself being stalked by someone from her past.

I enjoyed the small chapters, titled, Tanya, throughout the boo
Kathie Tostrup
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to play dead is an honest & open journey through the world of domestic violence told through the stories of both its principal & minor characters who all come from very different places in terms of class, past & current life situations. It is a very frank account of a deeply faceted & often misunderstood subject. Difficult to read at times due to the subject matter which in all honesty we would rather not meet head on in the course of our 'normal lives'. There were times I had to put it down ...more
Sharon Williams
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book. It's about ria Taylor who works in a local refuge for women and children and her husband Danny who is working away at the moment trying to earn dome extra cash to secure them a deposit on a family house for them and there 2 children. It starts at 30 days as that's how long he is away for and does a count down. The other chapters are named tanya and tell the story of a woman trapped in her house by her husband /boyfriend as it turns out and how her life is lived being trappe ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Ria's passion in life is running a refuge for abused women. Like a lot women, she juggles career, marriage, family, and other responsibilities while also struggling financially. She's a tough one, known as Superwoman. She protects the endangered women at the refuge, as well as dealing with their abusive partners who will go to any lengths to get them back under their control. Added to all that, Ria's husband is working out of the country, the refuge is in danger of being closed due to funding, a ...more
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How to Play Dead is about domestic violence so it is a difficult read but a compelling story .It is told through Ria who runs a domestic abuse refuse called Safe Me and Tanya who is writing a diary and is clearly being abused .This is a very thought provoking book with a good story line ,I wonder if in real life there are many SafeMe type shelters for the abused ? Ria is a very likeable character trying to be Superwoman and giving one hundred percent to these poor women and children to try and m ...more
Jenny C
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book focusing on domestic violence will never be an easy read, but this is a relevant and hard hitting story. Set in a women’s shelter and following the lady who runs it, this thriller takes you through the many ways in which our current system is doing abused women a disservice. It really made me realise how little women can do, when the law makes sure that the man has to have done something ‘really bad’ in order for them to be stopped. The women in this story shine, their strength is inspiri ...more
Sarah Griffiths
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I have just finished this book
This book is centred around domestic abuse and rape and in some instances, child abuse.
This book will not be for everyone
But, due to me working in this type of role and environment, I find that these types of books don’t bother me as much as some!
Ria has something to hide in her past and once the author revealed what had actually happened to her, I was so shocked and I really wanted her to be able to retain the funding for the women's centre, as you could tell it
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a compelling story and I think it tackled the subject of domestic violence well.
The main character of Ria is strong and so determined to help the women in the safe centre she runs, but she also has her family to look after and it's interesting to see how she juggles that. Especially when she becomes a target herself.
The book covers abuse suffered from several different women as they deal with violent and controlling partners and look for a way to escape that life. This may be difficult
Angie F
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book even though it's not something I'd normally choose. The stalking is only really secondary to the story of the women's refuge. I thought the characters were great and.I loved the way Ria and Janice stood up to the abusers especially the loathsome Frank James. I'd recommend this highly to anyone wanting a good read. ...more
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Jacqueline Ward's debut psychological thriller, Perfect Ten, was published by Corvus Atlantic Books in September 2018. Jacqueline writes stories about strong women and their lives and loves, exploring the real life emotions of revenge, obsession, rage, trust, guilt and joy.

She is represented by Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton. For more information about Jacqueline and her work go to www.jacqueli

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