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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Bookseller comes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.

In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At 21, she's married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever.

When Paul's niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to the small upstate town of Stonekill, New York to be by Ruby's side.

Angie thinks they're coming to the rescue of Paul's grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic 17-year-old who resists Angie's attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja's eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage.

Through Silja's flashbacks, Angie's discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby's strategic dissection of her parents' state of affairs, a story of love, secrets, and ultimate betrayal is revealed.

©2018 Cynthia Swanson (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Worse than a sophmore slump

Frankly, I suspect this is not actually the sophomore slump, but that this is the author's first novel, which was shoved in a drawer (and rightly so), but dusted off and called her second novel.

This is billed as "literary suspense," which implies good writing and, well, suspense. Nope, none of either. It starts off badly from the first paragraph, which was so badly written I actually stopped what I was doing and stared at my iPod thinking, did I really just hear that? As the story begins, Swanson relies on using as many adverbs as possible and (as my friend calls it) "GPS," moving your character around as creatively as the robotic woman on the GPS app.

Overall: lousy description, poor word choices ("She couldn't believe she had a 'female'" instead of "She couldn't believe she had a baby girl."), trite (and badly written) dialogue ("First, kiss me. Tell me you love me."), and description ("twinkling chocolate brown eyes"—used 3 times in 1 chapter, I think) and so on. Add to that, this woman should not be allowed to write sex scenes, however brief. So cringe worthy. Lots of telling vs. showing (yeah, those pesky adverbs among other rookie…mistakes that seasoned writers tend not to make).

The structure was distracting: Angie is 3rd person past tense (god-awful audio narrator who sounds like a sort of sing-songy robot), Ruby 1st person present tense (Ok audio narrator), and Silja 3rd person past tense (good audio narrator).

Usually with 3 POVs, there's at least one you like. Not so in this case. Angie was boring beyond belief (she enjoys housekeeping: oh that lemon scent! How satisfying to clean the bathroom twice a week), but Ruby and Silja weren't much better. There was nothing very compelling or original about any of them. And the two Glass husbands? Horrible men, albeit about as uninteresting as the rest of them.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Stay for the ending.

C.S. definitely writes with a signature style of mystery and slow seduction. The reader is drawn into a story that begins with character development and familiar schemas, only to be trapped into witnessing in rapt attention as the shadow side of each character is revealed.

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Had to stop - couldn't tolerate Angie narration

I tried to get into this book but before the story could really develop I had to stop listening. I found the Angie narrator (and character) so annoying that it spoiled the rest of the book for me. The sing-songy intonation of every sentence - all sentences read the same way, regardless of the content, and the over-enunciation of some consonants, especially t's and d's, were so distracting that I lost track of the words and it grated on my nerves so badly that I finally had to give up. The other two narrators were fine.

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Bad story, worse narration

I was eager to listen to this because I kind of liked Swanson's first book, The Bookseller. However, this one should have been thrown out long before it hit the shelves. The story was awkward and unbelievable. It made absolutely no sense and seemed to grasp at trying to build "suspense." The narration couldn't have been worse if someone had planned it that way. Characters were one dimensional and almost made me wince with their predictability and agonizingly stilted dialogue. A waste of my 11+ hours of listening.

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  • JBW
  • Colorado
  • 06-10-18

Intrigue

Loved the the story. At first a bit confusing then all makes sense in the end. Keeps you thinking! You