Book Review: Contacts by Mark Watson

“James Chiltern boards the 23:50 sleeper train from London to Edinburgh with two pork pies, six beers and a packet of chocolate digestives. At 23:55 he sends a message to all 158 people in his contacts, telling them that he plans to end his life in the morning. He then switches his phone to flight mode. He’s said goodbye. To him, it’s the end of his story – and time to crack open the biscuits.

But across the world, 158 phones are lighting up with a notification. Phones belonging to his mum. His sister. His ex-best friend. The woman who broke his heart. People he’s lost touch with. People he barely knows. And for them, the message is only the beginning of the journey.

Funny and wise, tender and deeply moving, Contacts is a beautiful story about the weight of loneliness, the importance of kindness – and how it’s never too late to reach out.

I’m not sure how I happened upon this book – potentially someone mentioned it on Twitter – but I was granted an advance review copy from NetGalley – and having never read anything by Mark Watson before, I thought I’d give it a go.

The blurb above gives the exact opening of the book – and it might be best to avoid if suicide topics would be a trigger for you. However, it’s beautifully written – with dark humour throughout – so don’t let me put you off before you’ve started.

The book intertwines James’s back story with current events in a clever way – so you start to learn how he’s got to this point. It definitely highlights reaching out to people all the time – not just when there is a big thing happening in their lives…

It’s told from James’s point of view on the sleeper train but also his flat mate, ex girlfriend, sister, ex best friend all in different places around the world – which adds to the drama.

I can’t say much more without giving the storyline away – and you really need to read it yourself, but I can say I really enjoyed it.

It’s out at the end of this month – so perfect half term read! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC.