Review: When She was Bad by Tammy Cohen

when she was bad tammy

You see the people you work with every day.

But what can’t you see?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years – they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ….

Now, there’s something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?


I love Tammy Cohen’s writing and was so pleased to receive an early copy of this through Net Galley. I started reading it one night thinking I’d just read a couple of chapters and I ended up being awake half the night reading – it’s one of those novels that’s near impossible to put down once you’ve started it.

I was intrigued from the start of this book as I’d avoided reading the synopsis, I’d requested it based on how much I’d loved Tammy Cohen’s previous novels, so I had no idea what was coming. It’s such a well thought out novel because it focuses on a number of people and it felt like I got to know all of them – there wasn’t more of a focus of any one person in the office. The multiple points of view all helped with this and added to the rapidly building tension.

There are two timelines to this novel and they slowly come together. The novel starts off in the present day with psychologist, Anne Cater, who switches on a UK news channel and is horrified at what she sees. At this point we don’t know what’s happened, just that is something terrible and shocking. This strand of the novel then goes back in time and follows a young Anne Cater as she gets her first big case working with two siblings who have come from a very damaged home life. Anne works with the girl, who demonstrates behaviours that concern Anne. 

Most of the book is focused on the present day in an office setting in the UK with a number of characters who are all, on the surface, nice, ordinary people, but over the course of the novel it becomes apparent that there are increasingly simmering tensions in the office, and that some characters have deeper issues. 

It’s apparent that the two stories are going to converge at some point but you don’t know how until it happens. It’s so cleverly done because throughout the novel I had my suspicions about every single character – there were moments where I felt quite smug because I had it all worked out and then something else happens and I was back to  the drawing board! I love novels like this. Tammy Cohen is so brilliant at throwing you off the scent and she does it numerous times in this book. All of the people in the office seem to have either a motive for revenge, or they have a dark side to their personality or unexplained injuries etc so it really could have been any one of them that is the bad guy.

I did work out part of the plot but, because there are many aspects to this story, I didn’t work all of it out, and I’m not sure anyone could. The reveal when it comes makes absolute sense though and as soon as you know, it all clicks into place as you think back over the novel.

Tammy Cohen really is a master at this type of novel – she weaves such a tight web that captures you so tightly and doesn’t let go until long after you’ve finished reading.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

When She Was Bad is due to be published on 21 April in the UK. 

I received a copy of this book from Transworld via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


9 thoughts on “Review: When She was Bad by Tammy Cohen

  1. Pingback: Weekly Wrap-Up (17 April 2016) | RatherTooFondofBooks

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