This story had me hooked right from the beginning and refused to let me go. I realize that I am late to the game here as many have already read and reviewed this one. I will spare you a plot synopsis as there have been many reviews done before me but I do hope you give this story a chance. If you do need a brief plot synopsis check read this review.
The Devil’s in the Details
The careful construction of this story was the single most impressive element. The author created a story that slowly unraveled, spun back on itself and unraveled once again. Was the story perfect? No. There were one or two things that seemed contrived but these issues felt minor given the mastery of the book as a whole.
I will be honest, I had guessed 95 percent of the story as I was reading. Normally that would be a turn off and would hurt my rating. In this case, tension and writing that caused me to constantly question was more enjoyable than surprise would have been. The book is written in two voices. One from the perspective of Nick as his wife goes missing and town’s eyes are fixed upon him and secondly from the perspective of Amy through a series of journal entries over the span of several years. The major question in the novel is did he or didn’t he? Did Nick kill his wife or have a hand in her disappearance. Through the majority of the book, Nick never relays an emotion to the reader as it relates to his wife’s disappearance. This forces you to look at the peripheral evidence to decipher the mystery as our narrator never lets us inside his head. Personally, I thought this style of writing was brilliant. While the town in this novel is confused and bewildered by the behavior and attitude of Nick, the reader feels the same way. The author did of wonderful job of painting a picture.
Some of these elements will put off readers. You get the sense that the narrators are not reliable. Nick’s behavior is difficult to comprehend and Amy’s version is static. Written on a page and not open to cross examination. For some readers, this may feel as if the author has pitted the characters against the reader. I have heard that many readers did not like either of the main characters and found themselves hating the novel as result. From my perspective, the author painted a true and honest portrait of each character. Whether or not you liked one or both of the characters was irrelevant as a study of human motivation was put on display.
This book will not be enjoyed by everyone. The unconventional story telling will be off putting to some as will these less than ordinary main characters. I recently read the classic novel, Rebecca . In that story we are faced with a naïve and lackluster protagonist that I had come to despise for the first three quarters of the book. The author eventually used those feelings and the protagonist’s unreliable narration to turn the story on its head and leave me embracing the character for who she was. This novel does a very similar thing with the characters. I thought this form of writing was masterful in the classic novel and I am equally impressed with its use in this modern psychological thriller.
Word of warning. If you are put off by adult language, you may wish to avoid this one. There was significant swearing throughout. I have been known to abandon books with excessive swearing but I was so involved in this one that I couldn’t stop listening to the audiobook.