Anyone will tell you that I am not usually a big fan of thrillers. A lot of the time, you see the same plot devices and characters rehashed over and over again. But there was something intensely gripping about this book, and the biggest factor was the atmosphere. Magee has a way of making this small sleepy town in Pennsylvania just drip with darkness and acrimony. It was inside all the descriptions of the wooded areas that housed the town’s secrets and in the hearts and faces of the townsfolk who could go from warm and open to cold-shouldered in an instant. The mood of the town was close knit, yet never really unguarded at all, and through all this, Risa shone like a lonely beacon of light, even as her world tumbled upside down.
This story was impressive for a lot of reasons, but one of the main things that I took away from it was that Magee had set up his environment and characters so well that the reader felt comfortable in thinking they had figured out the book, when in fact, there was a deeper and more complex substructure going on behind what everyone else was seeing and reacting to. It was a risky move, and had the timing and interplay between the characters been off by one millimeter, this book would have been rather ineffectual. As it was, Magee engineered a perfect milieu of secretiveness and mystery that took me further and further into the story, never predicting the final outcome that blew the lid off of the madness that had been secreted away inside the protective town.
Another bright spot was that the characterizations were perfect. Though Risa was trusting, she was not naive, nor was she foolish. I felt really invested in what would become of her life and the life of her son. Sean was also sympathetic. A man run ragged over memories that haunt him day and night, and looking for absolution through punishment. While I liked most of the characters, I had an immediate dislike and distrust for Alan and all his smarmy ways. He was like two different people inside the same body; one for the cameras and one for his wife. I hated the way he sacrificed the love of one woman and thought only of the campaign ahead. I am confident that readers of this novel will feel much the same towards Alan, who I felt was emotionally stunted and crippled.
This was a book that I was very invested in and that convinced me that psychological thrillers are a genre that I need to explore further. It wasn’t a light and breezy read, but. in fact, a surreptitiously beguiling one that left me feeling emotionally untethered for awhile. If you’re in the mood for a book that turns rabid darkness into light, I would highly recommend this one to you. I was pleased that I never once figured out what Magee had up his sleeve. A fantastic read.
About the Author|
Doug Magee has been a photojournalist, screenplay writer, children’s book author, death penalty activist, film producer and director, war protestor, college football player, amateur musician, and the basis of the Aidan Quinn character in Meryl Streep’s “Music of the Heart.” This is his first novel. He lives in Spanish Harlem with his wife and two teenaged children.
Learn more about Doug and his work at his website, dougmagee.com.
|A warm thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for me to read and review. Please continue to follow the tour by visiting these other blogs:
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.