After a few weeks of basically reading nothing but Dee Henderson, I was ready to jump into something new. I’ve been really wanting to read the last two books in the Joseph O’Laughlin series, Watching You and Close Your Eyes, so I was pretty stoked to jump back into the series. I’ve really come to like Joe and his family a lot, and his friend, Vincent Ruiz, is one of my favorite characters ever.
This book didn’t disappoint – I finished it within 24 hours of starting it, reading in huge chunks when I could, and a page or two at a time every time I walked through the room. It was so intense, and I think it may be my favorite in the series (although Shatter is a close second).
One thing that I liked about this book is that Robotham switched to third person narration, which I always thinks works much better with present tense (if present tense we must). For this book, it was a big part of what kept the tension ratcheting – the narration was always jumping to where the action was.,
In so many thrillers, it seems like a cop-out to have someone have serious mental illness issues, but it works in this series because Joe is a psychologist, so it’s only natural that he is going to have people who fit the ‘unreliable narrator’ category, and his patient Marnie definitely does just that. Marnie’s husband has been missing for over a year, and she’s desperate for money. The insurance company won’t release the life insurance until he is declared dead, and the government won’t declare him dead until he’s been missing for seven years. (And apparently Marnie was never added to their bank account, so she can’t access that, either? That bit seemed like a stretch to me, I mean they’ve been married for several years and have two children, doesn’t it seem like they would have some kind of joint account??)
Marnie finally gets access to some of her husband’s stuff that he left at work when he disappeared. In the box is a scrapbook of sorts – apparently, Daniel was working on a big surprise for Marnie, interviewing and videoing people who have known and loved her throughout her life, collecting memories and happy anecdotes. Except as Marnie – and Joe – begin to work through the interviews, it turns out that not everyone remembers Marnie with pleasure. In fact, several people seem to hate her, and Marnie has no idea why.
The pacing of this book is what makes it perfect. As we slowly learn bits of Marnie’s past, each new dollop of information propels the reader on to the next bit – every answer only leads to more questions. The slow realization that bad things happen to everyone who has done Marnie wrong, the questions about the unknown narrator from whom we get a few pages every couple of chapters, everything comes through at just the right time. I was racing through this book, desperate to know the answers – all of which, by the way, were answered satisfactorily.
I wanted to give this book a 5/5 rating, but there were just a few scenes that held me back. First off, this book definitely seemed to have more sex in it than others, and there is one bit in particular where an adult carries on a several-month assignation with a fifteen-year-old, which is downright creepy. And that’s never presented as normal or healthy, but when the identity of the adult is revealed, it really seemed a bit out-of-character with everything else we’d learned about this person, so it was a little strange. It sort of came across as though the whole thing was the fault of the teen, and the adult’s responsibility in the situation was sort of glossed over. And the whole chapter talking about it went into a bit tooo much detail for my delicate sensibilities to enjoy.
So in the end, it’s a 4.5/5 read for me. This book will definitely read better within the context of the series, but I think could also work as a standalone. It’s definitely recommended, but only if you have some blocks of time on your hands, because you will not want to put this one down!