Into the Water – By Paula Hawkins

Into the WaterRating:

Synopsis2 A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My reviewPaula Hawkins’ second book, relies a lot on the history of the small town forming the story’s setting for the haunting feeling that permeates throughout the book. This, along with almost a dozen narrators, is what provides the book with much of the smokescreen for what ultimately is a fairly simplistic resolution to the murder mystery.

Getting into the story does take some time, especially with so many narrators. It did throw me off a bit because I am not used to reading multi-PoVs that are more than 3 or 4. But with each narrator came a small but significant chunk of jigsaw pieces to the main puzzle at the heart of the plot and I am just glad that I actually caught onto and remembered all the minute details. Into the Water had what, in my opinion, makes the best kind of whodunits – where you guess the answers to some of the “smaller” questions based on what the author feeds you but are still stumped by the final revelation.

I loved the The Girl on the Train and I guess it is natural to have high expectations from the authors’ second books after their fab debuts. Into the Water is no TGotT – I felt the latter was definitely more character-driven with an alcoholic as the primary unreliable narrator. However, with Into the Water, I just felt that the large number of narrators somehow ended up inhibiting the author from actually devoting time to SHOWING how the people in the community felt about or got along with each other before and after the two successive deaths in their town. One of the main characters, Jules, who is actually the first narrator and who being one of the dead women’s sister, is at the heart of plot, didn’t make any impression on me at all. This was despite all the flashbacks we get about Jules and her sister in their teens. I actually found the backstory through the flashbacks more powerful and somehow connected with the younger Jules more than the present-day one – despite her transformation from someone who was ambivalent about her sister’s story or her niece’s emotional well-being to someone who finally starts making an effort. I connected more with her niece Lena’s frustration at her aunt and everyone around her who were trying to “meddle” into her mom’s and best friend’s deaths instead of believing her convictions that they were suicides.

The book has a dark, unhappy cloud shrouding it the whole time, but you don’t have any time to dwell on any particular mood because of all the frequent narrator changes. Though that is a good thing in terms of keeping the pace of the novel from dropping, the flipside of it was that some of the emotional moments didn’t make much of an impact on me. There were deaths, families grieving, a funeral, estranged families and a doomed love story but none of them moved me all that much. However, if you loved Hawkins’ writing in her first book, and if you are up for a good murder mystery; I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this. If I have to compare between the two, this one was definitely cleverer.

 

Teaser Tuesday #6

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Grownup

I received this book via Megan’s giveaway. This is one of the novellas that has been on my TBR for quite sometime (the other being Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell).

My Teasers:

She called me Nerdy because I wore glasses and read books and ate yogurt on my lunch break. I am not really a nerd; I only aspire to be one. (Page 10)

Mummy’s Little Angel – by J.W.Lawson

Rating:

*Note : I received a digital copy of this book via iReads book tour in exchange for an honest review*

Buy Links:

        Kindle       Paperback          Hardcover          Barnes & Noble      Friesen Press

Synopsis2Joanne didn’t believe that her life could become worse than it already was. She had lost everybody and everything she had loved. Surely she had suffered enough? The press had called Joanne’s identical twins psychopaths. Her Maggie. Her Annie. But she still loved them, even though one of them had killed her husband, Jeff. Joanne believed that his murder had been an accident. How could one of her girls be a murderer? She knew them better than anybody else; they were good girls really. She just had to prove it… The brutal murder of Joanne’s goddaughter, Laura had never been solved. Items had been missing when Laura’s remains were discovered: clues that could lead to the capture of her killer. One of them was Laura’s doll … the doll that Joanne later discovers in her home. Joanne is facing the most horrific dilemma of her life. Has the wrong woman been imprisoned? Could her child have used such brutality against her best friend? Or could both women be innocent after all? Joanne needs to find somebody for her daughter to confide in; somebody she will trust. She needs a miracle. There is only one person who can help. He is compassionate and caring, with an amazing ability to gain the trust of the most difficult patients. He is Joanne’s only hope. He is Jonathan Davies.

My reviewGosh, this was wild!!! The last book I read which used unreliable narrators this well was Girl on the train. GotT’s main narrator was unreliable because of alcoholism. But here, we are never really sure whose account is true. There are three primary narrators, Joanne, Annie and Maggie. Joanne’s version probably read the “truest” version of what she knew, which was honestly not a lot, and we are left wondering how much of it is clouded by bias towards either of or both of her daughters. But what really messes your head up (and so badly!!) is the contradicting laptop “diary” entries of Annie and Maggie where each one accuses the other of being the psychopathic monster.

There are always two aspects to a psychological thriller. The “psychological” part and the “thriller/mystery” part (duh! :P).  So I thought I will talk about both of them separately:

Psychological : Brilliant, and just so creepy!! The sort of vile creepiness that will make you cringe at the baser inhuman/human desires, proclivities and violence. The diseased mind that blurs distinctions between rape, pedophilia and BDSM. The ending made my stomach curl and wish so bad for a sequel!!

(Note:  Let me just state clearly though that the book does not have any graphic violence described in present tense. All of it is past reminiscences by Annie and Maggie.  We don’t really read any long, detailed scenes. So, if you are uncomfortable about actually reading through detailed scenes but don’t mind reading a book that briefly talks about the violence at many places, then, I think this book should be a safe read)

Annie and Maggie both sound so honest in their accounts of what happened that you are even if you do have a “guess” about who is the guilty one or what might have happened, you can’t help but keep changing your mind about who is the more/lesser of the two evils!! Yes, evil! That’s the vibe throughout, that maybe one of the two is not “that guilty” and maybe there is a little bit of “niceness” somewhere, but completely innocent? Heck, no!

I loved how the author plays with our instinctive tendencies to sympathize with people’s outward circumstances, without delving deeper into how that is even related to the person’s guilt. So, in one chapter, I am feeling sorry Annie not getting much attention from her parents during childhood and now being incarcerated for murder (Oh, poor Annie!) and in the next, I am feeling terrible that Maggie can’t even look in the mirror without staring back at her “ugliness” (Oh, poor Maggie!)

This is just me, going through the motions of a reader, so I can’t imagine how it must have been for Joanne! Considering everything that has happened to her, she somehow still keeps her sanity. But, just barely. With her family lost forever, and vacating the house that they lived in, it is a painful process of letting go. Holding on is equally painful – especially when you are not sure which daughter to hold on to. The murders not just wreck her emotionally but also end up causing her to lead the rest of life alone in increasingly deteriorating health. Her only support is her brother and I loved how the author communicated Joanne’s frustrations with him. She appreciates all that he does for her but also has to tolerate his overbearing interference in how to deal with her feelings towards her daughters. We also meet Laura’s parents – Susan and Richard and through them we get a complete picture of the devastation wrecked on both families after Laura’s murder.

Mystery: The main revelation was stunning and though it was something I guessed (well, a part of it), I loved how it was built up throughout the book and how consistent the “narrating” was – both Annie’s and Maggie’s. I think the issue I had with the book was there there were too many past murders/attempted murders tied in with what was happening in the present. That, in addition with some forensic clues strewn about and revealed later in the book was really confusing to follow. Everything was tried to be made “important” to the main plotline. No wonder then, that I kept thinking that Joanne’s mother and her schizophrenia also had something to do with the “Who killed them all?” question. There were also a couple of major timeline discrepancies (I read and re-read and “fact checked” and still couldn’t come up with a reasonable explanation) . I also felt something was amiss when so much of Joanne’s family is spoken about and I just kept wondering what purpose it served. On a whim, I googled online and found out Joanne’s mom and another character from this book actually appear in the author’s previous novel.  So, though this book is a standalone, just the knowledge that there was a previous book that covered what happened to Joanne’s mom helps in understanding why Joanne’s mom makes an appearance in this story. But, take that away, and you are left with a feeling that she is a bit of an unnecessary add-on.

Overall impressions A bit clunky towards the end (I am still a bit confused about a couple of facts), but if you love gory psychological thrillers that demand you pay attention to detail, then I would definitely recommend this one! This is one of those stories which finishes with a delicious open-ended twist. Ohh, the last chapter was so wicked… and so perfect!!!!

Book trailer:

About the author:

Picture

Award Winning Author, JW Lawson is already gaining recognition for her writing talents in the US and world-wide. The second of a trilogy of sensational thrillers,Mummy’s Little Angel is the winner of the highly acclaimed Worlds Best Story competition and has also received some outstanding reviews from the professional team of judges in the competition. She is currently writing her third thriller, Crossroads which will be available in 2017 and the final book of the current series, Hush Little Baby will be available in 2018.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Check out all the tour stops!:
Sept 5 –   Mystery Suspense Reviews – book spotlight / guest post
Sept 6 –   Ali – The Dragon Slayer – review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 7 –   Cheryl’s Book Nook – review / author interview / giveaway
Sept 7 –   Fantastic Feathers – review
Sept 8 –   Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sept 8 –   Keenly Kristin – review
Sept 9 –   The Autistic Gamer – review
Sept 12 – Cover2Cover – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 12 – The World As I See It – review / giveaway
Sept 13 – Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my! – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 13 – Celticlady’s Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Sept 14 – Musings Over Nothing – review / author interview
Sept 15 – T’s Stuff – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sept 19 – Readers Muse – review
Sept 19 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sept 20 – The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – review / guest post / giveaway
Sept 20 – The Travelogue of a Book Addict – The Book Drealms – review / giveaway
Sept 21 – Lisa Loves Literature – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Sept 21 – Life as Leels – review
Sept 22 – fuonlyknew – review / giveaway
Sept 23 – Bound 4 Escape – review / giveaway
Sept 26 – Sylv all about books and films – review / guest post
Sept 28 – Book and Ink – review
Sept 29 – The Cubicle Escapee – book spotlight
Sept 30 – Bookmyopia – review
Sept 30 – Room With Books – review / guest post / giveaway
iRead Book Tour Logo Medium

Surviving Valencia – By Holly Tierney-Bedord

Rating:

Buy Links:

Kindle

*Note: I received this book from the author through Aimee’s blogiversary giveaways.*

Synopsis:

A car accident robs the Loden Family of twins Van and Valencia shortly after they start college. Charmed, bright, and beautiful, they held their family together and elevated the Lodens to greatness. In their loss, a shadow is cast upon the family, particularly on the remaining child, who lacks the easy grace and popularity her older siblings took for granted. 

As an adult, her life begins to turn from mediocre to amazing when she is saved by cool, artistic Adrian. The kind of happiness once reserved only for others is finally hers, until pieces of the past begin ruining what seems to be a perfect life.

My Review:

I don’t remember ever learning the narrator’s name. I realized it while I was typing this out and trying to recollect her name. So I am just going to call her HER or SHE.

With so many books using the past/present – in –alternate chapters narrative these days, it suddenly started getting boring and like some new fad just to be all different and edgy, regardless of whether it is actually needed or not. This is one of the books where it works, and works really well.

This is the second book in a row (the first being Speak)  I have read dealing with pressures faced by high school girls, such as being bullied, or worse, ignored . Here, it is further compounded by the fact that SHE is the youngest of the three siblings, with the older two, Van and Valencia being twins and well-liked among their peers.  What’s worse, is HER parents ignore her (unintentionally or not), don’t celebrate her achievements or special occasions with the same gusto as the twins’.  Gosh, it was all-round terrible to read how she was, well.. pretty much emotionally abandoned by her parents, especially her mom. What was heartbreaking to see is that SHE never really stops trying – After her mom gives up on trying to mould her like Valencia – by putting her into dance classes and goading her to show “feminine grace”, she takes it upon herself to “change” and start afresh every time a new school year starts. But she never catches a break. Her siblings’ death makes everything worse, as unlike before, she cannot even be an outside spectator to the “Happy Loden gang”. Valencia’s death hits her especially hard, as she was someone who SHE always aspired to be, something which felt as unattainable as reaching out to the stars.

So, yes, it always felt like she was stuck in a hopeless situation. When they were alive, she was torn between trying to shrug them off or enjoy the reflected glory. When they are dead, she is even worse off as she is seen as some specimen of curiosity, to be pitied or seen as a psych guinea pig by the school counselors and teachers from afar, but never befriended or shown consideration.

I don’t know what more to say without giving anything away further, but I am so glad I discovered this book. On the surface it is about HER moving on. Dig deeper and it is about HER trying to shake off the disappointments of her childhood, and trying to make herself happy by living (or rather play-acting) the ‘IT’ life as seen in glossy magazines and TV shows. One of my favorite moments, was Adrian gifting her gold necklace and helping her putting it on, while both of them coyly speak to each through their reflections as they stand in front of the mirror.  The entire scene was a caustic nod to every happy-couple-in-TV-commercials ever. But as we find out in the end, she wasn’t the only one living vicariously.

If there is one criticism, it is probably that some of the additions to the mystery arc, such as the soothsayer and detective didn’t end being spoken about or explained again and some things felt more like loose ends than red herrings.  Some of final passages were slightly ambiguous too. I read them twice and there are still a couple of things that I am still not too sure about.

The ending was bittersweet and I liked how SHE followed up on her conviction that sometimes you just instinctively know when something is broken and can’t be mended. I was also left wondering whether SHE loved Valencia for what she effortlessly projected to the outside world, and would SHE have loved her just the same if she didn’t meet those lofty standards.

Symbiosis – By Guy Portman

Rating:

*Note : I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Buy Links:

Kindle
Paperback

Synopsis:

Identical twins Talulah and Taliah have never been apart. Viewed as curiosities by children and adults alike, they coexist in an insular world with their own secret language. But being identical doesn’t necessarily mean being equal…

 Soon a series of momentous events will send Talulah and Taliah spiralling out of control, setting them on a collision course with a society that views them as two parts of a whole. Will their symbiotic relationship survive?

 Perceptive and poignant, Symbiosis explores our enduring fascination with twins and the complexities of twinship.

My Review:

Taliah and Talulah have been close ever since they came into their world, with not just identical looks on account of being twins, but identical mannerisms, mirrored actions and a made-up language of their own. This is the first book I have read dealing with cryptophasia (translates to “secret speech”) and while this isn’t much of a “problem” when the twins are younger, their insistence to continue using it leads to communications issues  at their school. They are soon admitted into Royston Park School which takes in kids dealing with various emotional and behavioral disorders. This is where we begin to see the differences between Taliah and Talulah, and from here onwards, it is a continuous internal struggle of one twin to shrug off the influence of the more dominant twin.

It was quite creepy and scary to see just how trapped Taliah felt, though all she wanted, all she has always wanted was to be seen as ONE, not part of a two-person package deal. By the time the twins reach adolescence, she feels stifled from always being with Talulah. We slowly see how theirs has been more of a parasitic relationship rather than a symbiotic, with Taliah helping Talulah cheat through her school tests and assignments, and her not speaking in class but scribbling answers so that Talulah isn’t left feeling inferior because of her inability to stress on the sound “s”.  But here’s the thing, Talulah expects Taliah to step back, to stay in her shell, to never have any other close friends or a boyfriend. When a new boy joins Royston, he brings with him crazy, directionless and anarchist rabble-rousing thoughts and Taliah is briefly happy as Talulah seems besotted with him and his ideas. The interlude doesn’t last long enough though, as Talulah forces her to tag along with them, and they are soon breaking laws and snorting up drugs. A series of misfortunes later, they find themselves in a psychiatric facility. Within the confines and regimented routine of this clinic, Taliah finds freedom.. Freedom to be herself, to interact with people, and to dream about a future without her sibling’s shadow looming over her. We also see Talulah, pining for her twin, hating every moment of being separated from her. Taliah’s constant tussle with her mind and gut feeling, to cut off her “psychic” connection from her sister, exhausts her.

This book was unlike anything I have read in the past, and it felt good to come across a book that is quite genre-atypical. I kept rooting for Taliah to break free, and pitied Talulah. Despite everything Taliah loved her sister, and despite the obsessive nature of it, Talulah loved her sister too.. So, it was just so sad they couldn’t have a more healthy relationship. I had mixed feelings about the book’s ending. Without revealing much, let’s just say that I didn’t like it because an alternate ending would have challenged Taliah better to make some actual choices. Another thing which I had a problem with was the made-up language. I really wish there were some occasional translations because it felt like a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo taking up a lot of space in the book. There were some other things I couldn’t connect with, such as a lot of secondary characters with eccentricities (and I am not talking about students or wards here) that didn’t serve any purpose. I am not sure it if was meant for comic relief, but I just didn’t get it.

The book gave me an insight into not just some medical conditions that I had no idea about but also a peek into the treatments and therapies. However, the focus is largely on Taliah and Talulah, and addresses how important it is for individuality to breathe, grow and exhibit.

 

Summit Lake – By Charlie Donlea

9781942111061Rating:

Buy links:
Hardcover
Kindle
MP3 CD

Becca Eckersley is young, beautiful twenty-something law student. With good grades in school and a father who is an accomplished attorney with glitzy social connections, she looked all set for a great life and career ahead. Until she is found murdered in her family vacation home at Summit Lake. Who killed her? What was the motive to kill someone who seemed to have a regular, mundane college life? Kelsey, an investigative crime reporter is sent to find out. As she digs deeper, the search for truth turns out to be more than just another job assignment..

I was pretty excited to win this book in the giveaway. Both the cover and the synopsis caught my attention. It has all the basic elements which I have almost come to regard as my comfort food in murder mysteries (especially in the past couple of years) : Narrative – alternating between past (Becca) and present (Kelsey) timelines. A murder of a young woman in a quaint picturesque small town being investigated by an out-of-towner young woman who is a crime reporter with her own past demons to deal with. So when I said “more than just another job assignment”, I meant, it ends up being an almost cathartic experience for her. Kelsey is sent by her boss to Summit Lake so that she can get away for a while and stop reliving a traumatic experience that occurs a few weeks ago. Initially, she thinks the assignment is just a “fluff piece” meant to provide distraction for a few days, but she is soon invested in the case, both emotionally and out of curiosity.

I felt the whole investigative proceedings were too simplistic and easy. I mean, Kelsey hardly broke into a sweat. Everyone was eager to go out of their way to provide her information and risk getting into trouble. She easily befriends a coffeehouse owner and a doctor who always seemed to know someone who knew something which could help her. I wondered why couldn’t the police solve and close the entire case earlier because it seemed that easy. I also didn’t connect much to the characters and their interactions. Usually, the past narrative featuring the victims helps us understand them better, but I didn’t feel that I knew or understood Becca any better. We are told she has a tendency to unknowingly send guys the wrong signals about her feelings but that’s the problem. We are told everything instead of .. well..just dwelling on or getting a chance to delve more into the person’s mind. More pages on Becca, her thoughts, either in the form of monologues or “diary entries” (or any other narrative device) would have helped. The book works fine as a murder mystery but lacks heft as a psychological thriller. So moving to the stronger aspects, the story moves at a brisk pace and never meanders into unnecessary subplots.  I finished it within three days and was quite taken aback by the big revelation (never saw it coming!). I wonder whether my familiarity with this kind of setting and genre was the reason I had some other expectations, and maybe that’s why I was a bit underwhelmed with some parts of the book. But overall, it is a pretty good whodunit, and I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read many in this genre. I think you will enjoy it a lot more than I did!

*Note: I received this book from the publisher via the Goodreads giveaway programme. Thank you Kensington Publishing!*

 

 

The Girl on the Train – By Paula Hawkins

  Rating:

When Rachel isn’t drunk, she thinks about getting drunk. She is fired from her job. She lies, whines, and pines for her ex-husband. Envies his current wife. So yeah, her life is a train-wreck. Her only daily cheer is a catching a train to and fro every day; from Euston to Ashbury. As the train passes by the town she used to live in, it stops at a signal and across the same house every time. She likes looking at the young couple living in the house, she can see them in their terrace every morning. They remind her of the happier times she had with her husband. But the perfect image she had of them in her mind is shaken, when she sees something appalling. When a police case involving that couple ensues, she approaches the detectives with the information. But are they going to believe her?

The book has been compared to Gone Girl and Hawkins’ writing to Flynn’s. And I can see why. The story is told in past and present timelines, till the past ends and merges into the current day. Though Rachel is the narrator for the most part, there are couple of other women too. And none of them are too likeable. None are happy in their own lives and keep craving for validation from men. Rachel’s one-step forward and two-steps backward routine is frustrating to witness and her alcoholism makes her look pitiable. I felt sorry for her and felt like whacking her into her senses. I just wished, someone; be it her roommate or mom, is more forceful about helping her into rehab or AA meetings. But if she did sort herself out, the book wouldn’t have been half as seductive as it turned out to be. That’s the beauty of what Hawkins has done with this story, entrench the negative effects of alcoholism into the heart of the mystery. Rachel’s memory and version of events is so unreliable that she is barely able to recall anything or convince herself, let alone convince us readers. She trips up, makes a fool of herself in front of detectives, her words have no credibility, and yet she doggedly keeps at it. And I loved her for that. Because it felt good picking up a book with a narrator like that, especially after couple of recent reading experiences with either passive or ridiculously naïve protagonists.  Hawkins does an excellent job of juggling all the principal characters and keeping everyone relevant in moving the story forward.

The story is told in the “morning” and “evening” of each day, that took some getting used to. Because sometimes the previous night’s events are narrated during “morning”, the entire day’s events are narrated during “evening” and at other times it is just the present. I thought it was quite interesting and a different way to present the story. The book has some pretty insightful quotes too; this was my favourite:

For more quotes, check my Tumblr page here.

Two-thirds into the book, things start getting clearer (or maybe even earlier if you can take a good guess..) and maybe Hawkins could have held back the cards a bit longer. But it didn’t really take the fun out of reading the rest of the book. I was still eager to get the full picture; the when, why and how. It was such a smoothly written psychological thriller, and though it might not have had a final-pages flourish like Gone Girl, it didn’t have a hurried final-pages reveal like Sharp Objects either.

And now I come to the part where I have to find something strong and dramatic to end the review with a flourish, but I am not able to.. soooo … will just move on to the Amazon buy links:

Hardcover:  The Girl on the Train – Hardcover

Paperback: The Girl on the Train – Paperback

Kindle:  The Girl on the Train: Kindle

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Rating:

I loved Gone Girl, and for a long time I was under the impression that it was Gillian Flynn’s debut novel. It was much later that I discovered she had authored two other books prior to that, the first one being Sharp Objects. And you can see her flair for writing psychological thrillers and twisted characters in her first book too.

Sharp Objects starts with Camille Preaker , a small-time crime beat reporter assigned by her boss to dig up the story of what seems to be the beginning of a serial killing spree in Wind Gap, her hometown. Two young girls killed in two years, and both of them are well, toothless when their bodies are discovered. Yup, their teeth are plied out by the murderer, every single one of them.  Sounds like a pretty solid premise to base a decent murder mystery, right?  Well, midway through the book the case just felt like a crutch to explore the three main characters and their dysfunctional relationship – Camille, her mother Adora and half-sister Amma who she has never properly met till date. When Camille gets back to Wind Gap after ages, she is forced to stay with Adora,  Amma and Alan Crellin, her step-dad, so that she can increase her chances of networking and picking up quotes from old neighbours and friends. It ends up proving a bit counter-productive though, as her mom isn’t really pleased or supportive of her daughter’s assignment. The local police, assisted by a Kansas City detective, Richard Willis, aren’t forthcoming either.

As you read about Wind Gap, it’s history and folks; you get the feeling that there is something seriously off about the place. It just feels so suffocating and claustrophobic. And at the very least, quite disturbing. We the readers, of course, view that through the microcosm of Preaker/Crellin household.

Camille is damaged and recovering and loss of her sister and emotional abuse years ago, something she still grapples with and can’t make sense of – Did her mother love her? Did she love her younger sister more than her? Why has she always been so distant with Camille at home, though she is perfectly capable of pampering and nurturing to keep up appearances in the society?

Camille lashed out in her teens, by taking part in debauchery and cutting words into her skin. A decade later, she commits herself into a psych facility to wean away the cutting habit. But her stay in Wind Gap begins to take a serious toll on her as old memories, dormant resentment and hurt resurface. At one point she senses herself being sucked back into her old life with her mother, controlling, dominant and .. forceful mollycoddling. Even more unsettling is the new addition into the family charade, Amma, who at thirteen,  acts younger than her age at home, to get Adora’s attention, but acts out more than her age at school and everywhere else in town. She has a vicious streak and through her, we meet her gang of girls, all unapologetic about bullying, drugs, flaunting sexuality and just general meanness. Amma takes the cake though.

Adora literally treats Amma as a pet doll, and when Camille enters the picture, she isn’t sure how to treat this new development.  Camille can’t figure out Amma either. And to be honest, neither could I. So when, Amma seems to warm up to Camille, and has this candid conversation with her, where she admits she gets a real kick out of hurting people, you realize at that point that, both are, in a weird way, two sides of the same coin. Just that Camille went onto hurting herself.

So how did Camille and Amma end up turning into the people that they are? We also get a whiff of rumour about Adora’s mother being a cold, emotionally distant person. Is it a case of abuse handed down from two different generations and manifested in different ways?

So what about the murder mystery, you ask? Well, Flynn handles that too in parallel, but with lesser finesse than what she exhibited in Gone Girl.  The last few pages were convincing but rushed.  At 250 pages, this book makes for a crisp, sharp read. But if a few more pages would have smoothened those li’l frayed edges….