Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This was an Audible recommendation based on my previous selections, and after reading the summary, I thought it sounded promising. It certainly delivered on that promise with a tense thriller, well developed characters and a spot on reading by Scott Brick. Brick was consistently good throughout the entire story, but especially great with his voicing of hearing impaired Shep, the friend coming to repay a childhood debt. What a terrific character he is. The danger appears insurmountable, especially as the family has no idea what has brought it into their lives, but their committment to each other is what keeps them going. The story is well paced and plays fair by providing surprising twists without making them so preposterous that belief cannot be suspended. I sacrificed sleep by not being able to turn it off at the end of the day, needing to find out what came next. This author is new to me, but I am now looking at what else he has written. I hope other selections are as good as this one.
I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, since I am not a fan of corrupt "wise guy" stories. What makes this a delightful exception is the witty, intelligent writing and the spot on narration that brings the story and characters to life. I have not heard this narrator before, but he has the ability to create distinct voices that ring true for all of the characters, including the females - a feat rarely accomplished by male readers. My favorite is the bookie - he's a hoot. The humor infused into the story lightens the weight of the arsons burning down the neighborhood. All is wrapped up with a very satisfying ending, leaving me ready for more from this author and, hopefully, his star investigative reporter.
In response to reviewers who commented on the story's predictability, this is more of a psychological thriller than a real mystery. We know from the beginning who was harmed and who did the crime. The story gradually unfolds the details of how the crime occured and the consequences very effectively through the parallel time lines and stark personality changes of before and after the trauma. The Catherine of the early years was flawed and a little hard to like, but the Cathy of the later years, while difficult to deal with locked in her OCD purgatory, was one to root for to come out of her dark into the light of the truly living. As readers, our perceptions are challenged by the very flaws and weaknesses of both versions of Catherine. There were a few spots in the narrative where I needed to suspend belief a bit regarding what choices key characters made in what they did or did not communicate, but not enough of a flaw to downgrade my rating.
The strength of the writing and the dialogue ensured that I believed this story. I believed Cathy's fear, her need for control. I believed Stuart's concern and I definitely believed Lee's evil. The extremely well done reading by Karen Cass made these characters real. True enough, the subject matter is dark - no feel-good cheerleading going on here, but happily there are some unexpected little shots of humor tossed in for balance. And the ending was well handled - the destination worth the journey. There was no standing on the outside passively watching - I was fully pulled in right through to the end.