The Woman on the Cliff Review

The Woman on the Cliff Review | Janice Frost

Happy Monday! Time for a new post, and today I’m sharing my The Woman on the Cliff review! An intriguing mystery with great characters, I stayed invested throughout the entire book and really enjoyed Frost’s writing style. An author I’ll look out for again, for sure.

Publisher: Joffe Books | Date: 2019 | Genre: Mystery

Plot: 1988. The body of Moira Mackie, a St Andrews University student, is found on a clifftop path. Her ex-boyfriend is found days later, hanged in his uncle’s garage with a suicide note confessing that he killed her. The case is abruptly closed.

Thirty years later, Ros Maitland has seemingly moved on from the horrific murder of her housemate Moira. Then her daughter takes up a place at the same university, and old demons reawaken.

Was Moira murdered in a lover’s quarrel? Or was her death part of something far larger, uglier and more calculated? What really happened that terrible night?

Policeman, Innes Nevin, investigated Moira’s death and has been haunted by it ever since. It was his first murder case, and he knew it had been closed too soon. Innes and Ros must delve back into the painful past to finally bring the truth to light.

Then comes a brutal turn of events. Someone wants their investigation stopped at all costs. In an electrifying standoff, Ros must risk everything she cares about.Can she find the truth about the death and escape with her life?

I received The Woman on the Cliff from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Woman on the Cliff review

The Woman on the Cliff Review

The Woman on the Cliff is a solid mystery novel. It’s a who-dun-it, full of past regrets, politics and things left unsaid. It progresses at a steady pace, flicking between present day and the past, as it unravels the mysterious circumstances surrounding a student’s death and the lasting impact it has had on her housemates, even years later.


The plot was good: the switch between the two time zones helped create the tension, building suspense as facts are hinted at in one time-zone and then explored in more depth in the other. The murder is introduced before you get to know any of the characters or their relationships, which works effectively to keep pointing the finger at different people as various events unfold.


There’s a handful of characters that make up the plot. Due to the split narration, however, it feels like there are more. Ros as a student is a bit of a push-over: she meets a forceful friend at a vulnerable moment and spends half the book defending Elspeth, even when she knows it’s not right. But Ros as an adult – a mother, a widow and a woman haunted by her past – is a much stronger character. You see Ros grow as the novel progresses: she makes her own decisions and won’t let the matter drop, even when it becomes clear the threat could get personal if she pursues the inquiry into her house-mate’s death.

There doesn’t need to be a reason, I think. In my mind I have a vision of a universe that is morally bankrupt, where money and the promise of a comfortable life outweigh the value of a single human life.

The Woman on the Cliff by Janice Frost

Innes plays a crucial role in the book but never becomes the lead: that part belongs purely to Ros. In the past, Innes is overlooked, with very little page time. In the present day, he knows to ask the right questions to give Ros the chance to really step up. He’s a great supportive character and I loved that he doesn’t become more than that.

The crux of the book for me was Ros and her friendships – both past and present. I won’t delve into them too much here for fear of spoilers – there are some strong characters and you get a sense from them early on whether they’re as innocent or, indeed, guilty as Ros believes.


The pacing remains steady throughout the book with a few key events helping to spike the tension: believing Innes is a liar, the attack on Ros’ daughter but, just as importantly, Ros learning who she can trust and making decisions long overdue. There is a lot of misdirection and I had no idea who I thought was the murderer: some candidates were too obvious to truly believe it would be that simple.

Talking of which, there were some components that I wasn’t certain were entirely clarified or where they fitted in. The potentially corrupt policeman and his new life in America. Some of the political ramifications of what occurred… But that could be I missed details because the politics (thankfully, not a big part of the book) went over my head a little.

A thoroughly enjoyable mystery that was a really satisfying read. Definitely a recommendation!

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29 thoughts on “The Woman on the Cliff Review | Janice Frost

  1. Think this one would be a little too triggering for me but it has a great premise for a thriller!!

    Daisy xoxo | AccordingToDaisy


  2. I’m not usually a fan of mysteries, but as far as mysteries go this one sounds pretty interesting! My granny was a huge reader and loved mysteries, and her life long best friend was named Moira, so this makes me think of her. Thanks!


  3. Great review. This sounds like a read I would love (well, maybe not the politics part, because eww). I love that there are two time parts. Hopefully my library will get it one day (in either Dutch or English).


  4. This book sounds like a good old-fashioned crime novel. I’d see something like this in Midsummer Murders or A Touch of Frost!

    Daisy xoxo


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