My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this twisty thriller, Lisa Jewell weaves the lives of three people together in a web of secrecy and misconceptions. Owen Pick is in his thirties, never married, living in his aunt’s house. He is dismissed from his teaching job after several students allege sexual misconduct. Desperate and alone, he is drawn into the ugly online world of incels. Roan Fours is a child psychologist who lives across the street from Owen. He has a wife and two teenage children. Sapphyre Maddox is a former patient of Roan’s who is at a loss when their therapy sessions end, and in an effort to stay connected to him, begins following Roan in secret. When Sapphyre disappears on Valentine’s night from in front of Owen’s house, all eyes turn to the odd loner. But as the investigation continues, secrets are revealed and as it turns out, almost no one is who they seemed.
This was a pretty good book. The characters were dimensional and believable. Sapphyre has a secret that she has hidden since she was ten years old, and even though she never actually told Roan what it was in their sessions, it was the reason she needed therapy in the first place. Roan is controlling and a bit overbearing, and has some secrets of his own that have deep reaching effects when his wife becomes aware. And Owen, the socially awkward, angry young man is the perfect foil for the suspicions leveled at him when Sapphyre turns up missing. Cate, Roan’s wife, is afraid to face the suspicions she has about her husband and later, their teenage son, and is almost eager to join the conspiracy against Owen to distract herself. It’s a cast with enough hidden truths to keep a reader guessing most of the way through the story.
The plot is engaging, with several twists and sidelines that muddy the waters just enough to hold interest. The ending is mostly satisfying although there were a few points I felt could have been explained or hinted at earlier than they were. I won’t go into too much detail because it would lead to spoilers, but one in particular seemed to jump out of almost nowhere with little set-up. It felt a bit rushed. It fit in the story and did grow out of earlier, vaguely hinted at bits, but it did feel a bit forced. Those are minor things, though. The main story is full of tension and flows at a steady pace. It starts out a bit confusing as it is told from several viewpoints and is a bit choppy at the beginning, but does interweave eventually.
Readers who enjoy taut, well-written, suspense stories with twists and surprises should like this one. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.
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Want something new to add to your 2021 reading lists? Might I suggest one of my books? I have written science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy stories. There are novels, novellas, and shorter pieces to fit everyone’s reading time. There are even some free stories, both here on the site and in other places. You can go here to find out more about them. They are available on Amazon, Smashwords, and most ebook retailers. Thank You!