The Safe Place: A Novel (Paperback)
July 2020 Indie Next List
“The Safe Place is sure to captivate readers as they look to unearth the secret within the gates of an idyllic estate on the southern coast of France. From chapter one, I was hooked and transported to the luxurious lifestyle Downes creates in the book. Her storytelling and the myriad of clues she sprinkles throughout the story made this an unputdownable page-turner. A must for your 2020 reading list!”
— Elise Lee, Away With Words Bookshop, Poulsbo, WA
Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downes's debut, The Safe Place, is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.
Welcome to paradise...will you ever be able to leave?
Emily is a mess.
Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.
Emily is desperate.
Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.
Emily is perfect.
Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn't play along, the consequences could be deadly.
About the Author
ANNA DOWNES was born and raised in Sheffield, UK, but now lives just north of Sydney, Australia with her husband and two children. She worked as an actress before turning her attention to writing and appeared in BBC TV shows such as Eastenders, Casualty, Holby City, and Dalziel and Pascoe, as well as a long-running stage production of "The Dresser" in London's West End. She has degrees from both Manchester University (Drama) and RADA (Acting). She has been published in the Zodiac Literary Review, shortlisted for the Sydney Writers Room Short Story Prize and longlisted for the Margaret River Short Story Competition. The Safe Place was inspired by Anna’s experiences working as a live-in housekeeper on a remote French estate in 2009-10.
A July 2020 Indie Next Pick!
A PopSugar "Best New Book of July 2020"
One of Travel + Leisure's "20 Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020"
One of Ms. Career Girls's "Summer Releases for Your TBR List"
One of Parade's "New Thrillers and Mysteries You Won't Stop Thinking About This Summer "
A Frolic "Most Anticipated Book of Summer 2020"
One of "The Most Anticipated Books of Summer" on Getaway House
A "Most Anticipated Crime Book of Summer" on Crime Reads
One of the "Best new Books to Read This Summer" from She Knows
A She Reads "Summer's Hottest Thrillers"
A South Florida Sun-Sentinal "Best of the Year" Pick
“[Downes is] skilled at ratcheting up the tension and conveying Emily’s sense of thrumming unease . . . an unusual and thrilling narrative.”—The New York Times
“Downes keeps the sense of foreboding building . . . Emily is a compelling character who arrives in France scatterbrained and immature but find the inner strength to save herself.”—The Washington Post
“Downes imbues The Safe Place with a strong sense of the gothic, keeping the suspense high and the tension in the Querencia household palpable. Surrounded by decay, Emily proves her mettle as her maturation and emotional growth enhance the solid plot with its myriad surprises and twists. The Safe Place delivers a deliciously creepy debut.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Secrets are laid bare, and the novel moves toward a conclusion that melds sorrow with satisfaction, ruin with redemption. She does so with evocative and insightful prose, striking characters and a plot that’s astute, addictive and alarming. Downes, who draws on her past for elements of The Safe Place, shows great promise and creates equally great expectations.”—The Free Lance-Star
“The perfect summer mystery read.”—PopSugar
“I absolutely devoured The Safe Place, and lived and breathed every second. The images Anna Downes creates are so vivid and real that I was transported between Soho and France in the flick of an eye. I had no idea where it was going; I just knew I had to hold onto Emily’s coattails and go along for the ride. This one is going to fly! If you love a suspense thriller with a punch, I’d highly recommend The Safe Place.”—Sandie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Woman
“[A] mix of romantic escapism and gothic menace. Ruth Ware fans may want to check this one out.”—Publishers Weekly
“Downes' debut novel is a slow burn of a story with Emily picking up on snippets of conversations as a breadcrumb trail leads her to an astounding conclusion. A great read for those looking for a side of mystery with their women's fiction.”—Booklist
“A riveting review.”—SheKnows "Best Summer Books of 2020"
“The Safe Place is such a rare thing—a claustrophobic, addictive thriller that lets you actually feel for all of the characters involved. Anna Downes has such skill in combining the heart-in-mouth feeling that everything is building to a disaster with genuine emotion. I was right behind her as she chose this big change in her life, and in a strange way, right behind Scott and Nina, too, whose stories were heartbreaking.”—Gytha Lodge, bestselling author of She Lies in Wait
“The Safe Place is a brilliantly atmospheric novel that keeps you equally gripped and unsettled from page one. Starkly original and with an alarmingly plausible premise, this is destined to be a bestseller.”—J.P. Pomare, bestselling author of Call Me Evie
"The Safe Place is compellingly disturbing. Anna Downes is a powerful story writer who will lull you into a false sense of security—and then pounce. An author to be watched."—Jane Corry, bestselling author of My Husband’s Wife and I Made a Mistake
“The Safe Place is a dark and wonderful debut that lulls you in with beautiful prose and complex, believable characters, then beats you over the head with a killer plot and a thrilling climax. It’s the kind of book you race through as quickly as you can so you can start it again. Everyone will be talking about this book!”—Christian White, internationally bestselling author of The Nowhere Child and The Wife and the Widow
“The tension ratchets up and up in this beautifully paced thriller—an outstanding debut, populated by complex and sympathetic characters. You’ll be thinking about them long after you’ve finished reading. Destined to be a book club favorite.”—Chris Hammer, international bestselling author of Scrublands
“I loved The Safe Place . . . it was tense and atmospheric with the seemingly idyllic yet eerie setting. A truly gripping read.”—Karen Hamilton, author of The Perfect Girlfriend
“I could just close my eyes and float away reading this book. I tore through this one and was as blindsided as Emily was when the truth came out. Downes did a fabulous job of sucking me right into this perfect little world and left me wanting more. This was my first book by this author and I’ll absolutely be back for more!”—We Are Bookish
“Gripping, satisfying and also promising first suspense novel. Psychological suspense, really, but in a setting where we expect a “gothic romance”—isolated house, mysterious owner, troubled child needing care. . . . But a larger cast than that, and characters that, even though we are in close point of view with each in turn, continue to surprise us.”—Shawangunk Journal
“It all adds up to an intriguing and addictive read. A real page turner; I couldn't put the book down once the secrets began to be unveiled.”—The AU Review.com
"Anna Downes’ debut places her firmly as a new player on the psychological thriller playing field! I can’t wait to see what she does next. With her strength for characters, structure, and pacing, I am definitely all in on it!"—Novel Lives
"All the stars! An incredible debut from a new voice in suspense fiction, this was a tension-building and atmospheric read."—The Reading Beauty