- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 29, 2014)
- ISBN: 9780062294906
- Source: Publisher
In a small New England town, preparing for the next swim meet is of utmost importance. Young girls struggle to shave seconds off of their race time, squeezing into too-tight swim suits for an extra advantage. Too busy watching their daughters compete, or their minds straying to issues in their personal lives, no one is aware of the dark-haired man with a severely wrinkled brow in the audience. It isn’t until a girl from the swim team is brutally murdered at a rest stop that the parents begin to take notice of the world around them.
Annie is the mother of two girls on the swim team. She is married to Thomas, a man who hasn’t shown her affection in years. Added to her emotional turmoil is her brother’s suicide a few years ago. Her attention is spent worrying about her marriage, obsessing over her brother’s death, and Paul, the father of another girl on the swim team. Despite her own (albeit strained) marriage and the fact that Paul is married to her friend Chris, Annie becomes obsessed with the attention Paul gives her, despite her graying hair and crow’s feet. After a competition, sharing a dinner alone with Paul, he shares with her a secret from his past with chilling similarities to current events.
In an obvious attempt to shift her attention elsewhere, Paul’s wife, Chris, becomes obsessed with uncovering the killer’s identity. The serial killer’s actions hit close to home for her family, and Chris goes so far as contacting other families of previous victims in an attempt to get more answers.
As shocking secrets unfold, these callous parents are forced to question their allegiances, forced to make irreparable decisions based on gut instinct in order to prevent any further deaths.
Told in a wholly unique second person narrative, Murphy delves into the chaotic and troubled lives of a small community. The parents (and in many cases, the children) of this swim team are brutal and unrelenting. This is not only an intense and uniquely portrayed thriller, it is a exploration of what happens when obsession takes a dangerous turn.
When I finished reading this novel, I was certain that the formatting ruined it. Initially, I had a hard time concentrating on the storyline, instead focusing on the formatting traits that irritated me. Murphy starts many statements with “This is…” a unique style that had me questioning whether or could, in good conscious, recommend this novel.
As I began to write this review, it suddenly became apparent that the formatting actually added to my experience rather than detracting. It forces the reader to be an outsider, never truly getting inside the minds of the characters. I wouldn’t say we were casual observers, for the detail Murphy uses in her prose, including the personification of everyday objects, forces the reader to become immersed in the setting. The writing style, initially of-putting, soon becomes hypnotic, dialing up the intensity to explosive levels.
Adding to my interest in this unique thriller is the fact that only the reader knows the identity of the killer. The intensity and the tension develops as we follow characters as they get closer and closer to the answer, a finish line of sorts.
Bottom line: While the formatting of this novel may sway readers from truly embracing a genuinely unique thriller, I implore you to embrace it give the novel the patience it is due. It won’t take long before you become transfixed by this truly spectacular thriller. Highly recommended.
Thank you to TLC Book tours for providing me the opportunity to review this title. Be sure to check out the other stops in this tour.