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Claire McGowan

What You Did by Claire McGowan

‘A brilliant, breathless thriller that kept me guessing to the last shocking page’

—Erin Kelly, Sunday Times bestselling author of He Said/She Said

What You Did
By Claire McGowan
Thomas & Mercer / 1 August / Kindle £3.98 / hardback £18.89 / paperback £4.99

A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend?

It was supposed to be the perfect reunion: six university friends together again after twenty years. Host Ali finally has the life she always wanted, a career she can be proud of and a wonderful family with her college boyfriend, now husband. But that night her best friend makes an accusation so shocking that nothing will ever be the same again.

When Karen staggers in from the garden, bleeding and traumatised, she claims that she has been assaulted by Ali’s husband, Mike. Ali must make a split-second decision: who should she believe? Her horrified husband, or her best friend? With Mike offering a very different version of events, Ali knows one of them is lying, but which? And why?

When the ensuing chaos forces her to re-examine the golden era the group shared at university, Ali realises there are darker memories too. Memories that have lain dormant for decades. Memories someone would kill to protect.

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‘A knockout new talent you should read immediately.’ - Lee Child

One of the very best novels I’ve read in a long while... astonishing, powerful and immensely satisfying.’
- Peter James

‘Plenty of intrigue makes this a must read’ - Woman & Home

‘A great novel that happens to be a crime novel....A winner’ - Mark Lawson, Radio 4 Front Row

’McGowan’s pacy, direct style ensures that the twists come thick and fast.’ - The Irish Times

‘Taut plotting and assured writing’ - Good Housekeeping

A gripping yarn you will be unable to put down’ - The Sun


  • Should we keep the same friends all our lives?

  • What does modern friendship mean? Competitive friendship /frenemies

  • Envy and how it can ruin your life, especially between friends, and how it can be sparked off by social media posts, the pressure to have a perfect life

  • Being an outsider at an Oxbridge University - what it was like going to Oxford as a state-school pupil from Northern Ireland

  • What it’s like writing about sexual assault in the wake of Me Too – the responsibility to get it right

  • The beta marriage - so much pressure to ‘have it all’, is it good to have a ‘crash and burn’ marriage so that you can learn what you really want from life and love, and do it right next time?

  • Traditional gender roles – the benefits of being raised by a working mother and a father who did most of the childcare and housework (very unusual in rural Ireland in the 80s)

  • The joys of having platonic male friends – going to an all-girl convent school and then an old-fashioned university I didn’t have male friends until I was in my twenties. They now enrich my life in all sorts of ways

  • What’s it like to experience loneliness as a young person and the shame and stigma attached to this, and how to build a friendship group from scratch

  • The best way to be dumped – why ‘ghosting’ should be banned and why we should bring in a ‘dating charter’ for etiquette in these days of Tinder and online hook-ups

  • Is divorce contagious? – when I got divorced at the age of 31 I was the third in my close group of six friends to break up within less than a year

  • How illness helped me find my dream job


Born in Northern Ireland in 1981, Claire McGowan studied in Oxford then lived overseas in France and China. She is the author of standalone thriller The Fall, and the Paula Maguire series, including The Lost, The Dead Ground, The Silent Dead, A Savage Hunger, Blood Tide, and The Killing House. The Paula Maguire series was optioned by the BBC in 2014. A ten-part radio drama written by Claire was broadcast on Radio 4 in early 2019, and as a screenwriter she was selected as the 2017/18 Nickelodeon International Writing Fellow.

Claire set up the Crime Thriller Writing MA at City University, London, and has also taught for the Arvon Foundation, Guardian Masterclasses and at many literary festivals.

As Eva Woods, she has published four women’s fiction novels, including the bestselling How To Be Happy.

More information is available from: and you’ll find Claire on Twitter at @inkstainsclaire 

Claire is available for interview, features and events.

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For more information about this book, please don't hesitate to get in touch.