In this second installment of Leona Gom's Vicky Bauer series, the titular protagonist is experiencing some difficult circumstances, from her husband's coma to her new job as a substitute teacher, in addition to some mysterious acts of violence perpetrated on the people in her life.
Erin Moon has a clean and expressive style that enriches Gom's prose, which can quickly shift in tone from sardonic to suspenseful. Moon's performance extends to the characters as well, equally adept at giving voice to the increasingly put-upon Vicky as she is to her gruff father and intriguing new neighbor.
Vicky Bauer's life is already complicated. Her brief career as a film scholar has been replaced by difficult stints as a substitute teacher. Vicky's husband is in a semicoma and her estranged father has suddenly become dependent on her. In the midst of this decidedly troubled existence a series of unrelated events further complicate Vicky's life. For some reason people who have caused Vicky difficulties are now the subjects of acts of violence. Moreover, Vicky has a new neighbour to whom she is extremely attracted. His young son, however, seems troubled and destructive, in stark contrast to his affectionate twin sister.
Much more than a mystery, Double Negative uses the genre to pose questions about guilt, family abuse and violence and the complexities of life's important relationships.
This novel seems to be a continuation of the former book by Leona Gom (After Image) which was a fairly straightforward mystery book. In this novel, Vicky the protagonist picks up the story some years after the first book, and the couple is back in Canada. However, her husband is now in the hospital, with a brain injury that has rendered him apparently unable to make emotional contact with Vicky. So she is on her own, still having the somewhat insecure existence we saw in the first novel, but now an alcoholic in recovery.
A new neighbor and his son move in, and very strange things begin to occur, that leave Vicky questioning a series of events. This story revolves around possessiveness, abuse, and secrets. There are sudden and dramatic happenings in this twisting and turning novel, especially toward the end, but if the reader is seeking an old fashioned who-dunnit, this is not it. However, even though this book did not sustain the same level of tension and complexity of the first book, it was a good story and worth reading. It fills out more of Vicky's story, and we see her progressively finding her way in a new life where she is learning better how to cope. Interesting story, just not quite as compelling as the first book.
I believe there is still a third book in this series (Freeze Frame) but I don't believe it is available in an audio edition. If it were, I would probably listen,as I would like to see what happens to Vicky after this.
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