A mother attempts to murder her young twins and succeeds in killing one of them, as well as the family dog. A father stands trial for his wife’s crime, accused of criminal negligance. A lawyer employs a psychic to delve into the past of his client’s wife, determined to prove that she was genetically predisposed to injure her children, and her husband had no way of predicting it. Oh, and the book is described by many as a thriller. If that doesn’t sound like a great description of a book I would normally try to avoid and would probably dislike reading, I don’t know what does.
Luckily for me, I read rave reviews from other book bloggers and participated in a LibraryThing author chat with the the author before I really heard all of the description above (I promise that nothing you read above is a spoiler, by the way). I was also lucky enough to win a copy of this book direct from the author during the aforementioned author chat.
Karen tells the story of Tom (the husband on trial) and Jane (Tom’s wife) with such ease and skill that at times I nearly forgot I was reading. The story comes together so seamlessly that I really didn’t even have to stop to suspend disbelief about the workings of the psychic. It probably helped that Tom was fairly skeptical himself, particularly at the beginning of their sessions. I basically just latched on to Tom’s thoughts and emotions; I am not sure I have ever identified so strongly with a male main character, but everything he was going through seemed so real. I would have perhaps liked to see him interact more with his surviving daughter, but it seemed realistic to me that the combined continuing disbelief of what his wife did along with the stress of his ensuing trial would give him a numb, internal demeanor.
I don’t think I would really classify this as a thriller. I think it is a fantastic story of family, dysfunction, pain, and the realization of how our actions effect other people. Since I could barely put this book down and read it in less than a day, I would definitely say I recommend it.
Because of the first comment I got on this review, I wanted to add something. I know lots of people are worried about having problems reading a book dealing with a mother killing her children. This actually ends up not being a big problem with the way the book is written. By the time we come into Tom’s life, both the crime and Jane’s trial have come and gone and we never directly see the events of that day. In some ways, the crime is almost incidental to the story, it is more about whether Tom could know that Jane might have problems with mental illness and violent tendencies. Don’t worry, you are not put through a graphic scene of fear with the children.