Series: Stillwater Trilogy #3
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by MIRA on 1 September 2011
Reading Challenges: 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
I found this book fairly difficult to read given the references to sexual abuse. I haven’t read the first two books in the series and the blurb on the back didn’t exactly prepare me for what was to come. Madeline Barker’s father disappeared twenty years ago and her step brother has long been suspected of killing him. When her father’s car is discovered in the local quarry, it sparks new questions rather than answering old ones.
Madeline still sees her father through rose coloured glasses. Despite mounting evidence that he wasn’t a decent guy, she tries to distort the facts to suit her preconceptions. She hires a private investigator, Hunter Solozono, ostensibly to find out what happened but hampers him by withholding evidence and misrepresenting events. When presented with evidence that doesn’t fit her theory, she gets angry. The really sad thing is that a number of characters do everything they can to protect her yet she didn’t have it in her to properly empathise with those who were the real victims.
Hunter felt like an old school PI in some ways as he had an alcohol addiction he was trying to beat and a terrible relationship with his ex-wife. He is able to brilliantly solve the crime in a very short space of time which is lucky really for Madeline as she had limited financial resources. I would have liked to see him stumble a little bit as he tried out different theories to make it seem a little more realistic. Instead he coasted through an investigation that had stumped people for twenty years and got the girl without any great effort on his part.
I wasn’t expecting to read a book about the sexual abuse of girls and getting inside the mind of a predator wasn’t enjoyable at all. The cops’ physical abuse of a teenager was also very unpleasant. The fact that I loathed the main plot in this book is testament to Novak’s skill as a writer. I felt physically ill at some points yet I continued reading. I’m not sure Novak needed to push this issue as much as she did because at times it smacked of overkill. I would have liked some sort of resolution for the victims as they were mostly silenced in this novel.
I can’t say this was an enjoyable read but it was an intense and at times compelling one.