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I'd never heard of Lisa Unger before but I came across this in the library and, being a thriller/crime fan, decided to give it a read. I'm easily swayed by comments on the front, and on this one read: 'The New York Times Bestseller'. The sub-headline was 'The truth can be deadly', along with 'Love hurts... Sometimes it even kills' on the back. I thought it may have been a bit of a romantic crime or too generic, but I was pleasantly surprised because it turned out to have a complex plot, engrossing characters and intellectual style which kept me interested.
The book introduces us to Ridley Jones, a freelance writer in New York haunted by a dark figure from her past, a supposed uncle named Max Smiley. From there, we're taken through a series of events leading to a hunt for invisible killers and evil that can't be seen, even though it's all around the characters as bodies and lies are uncovered.
This is written as a first person account, giving us a step-by-step path from her 'normal' everyday existence to the trappings of a murderous, complex and deadly web of deceit. I thought the style of writing was interesting and easy to read, and despite the rather complexity of characters, reasonably easy to keep up with.
A few things were quite unclear to me at the start however, especially involving Project Rescue, an organisation Ridley and her family were involved in to rescue children from abusive homes. There's much mystery involving the project and we get the inclination that there was a lot more to it than the positive aspects, with its shadowy undertow and workings of Max Smiley gradually creeping to the surface. I found that, despite wanting to understand what these things were, I was able to keep reading practically in the dark about what was truly going on. I'm glad I stuck with it because by the end of the book, all is revealed; names and places, events and dark secrets, all come together and are made clear.
Ridley gets involved with many people during the course of the book, and what you come to quickly realise it that no one and nothing is what it seems. She starts with her boyfriend, Jake, who wants revenge on Max for crimes committed in his past. But Max is supposed to be dead. Max was also supposed to be Ridley's uncle, but that wasn't true either. I wont say any more and ruin the storyline, but I'll just say that with the involvement of international agencies, the CIA, a suave detective named Dylan and a host of others, there's plenty to get your head around.
Overall, I would recommend this as it's a book you can get absorbed into. The characters and scenes were all well-detailed, meaning it was realistic enough to identify with and I found myself drawn into the evolving relationship between Ridley and Dylan. I would agree with the positive review on the back of the book : 'Suspenseful, sensitive, sexy, subtle... The best nail-biter I have read for ages. Highly recommended' - Lee Child (a fab thriller/crime writer himself).
With enough undertones, complexity and flare in her writing, Unger is an author I'll look forward to reading again.
402 pages (with epilogue) into 24 chapters. RRP £6.99