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Jillian, Carol and Meg have been subjected to horrific violence that hit the headlines and changed their lives forever but they refuse to call themselves victims - they are survivors.
A year on, Eddie Como, the College Hill Rapist who committed these awful crimes has been shot dead the day he travels to court for his trial. Obviously, all three women are thrilled that he is dead, but many would see them as prime suspects to his murder.
Detective Roan Griffin has been brought in to lead the case and immediately sets about to question the women. Would any of these women or their families feel strongly enough to hire a professional killer? Why is it then that the professional killer was murdered a few blocks from Como's murder several minutes later?
When another woman is brutally attacked in the same pattern set out by the now dead Eddie Como, Detective Griffin needs to start thinking of other alternatives; it seems that someone doesn't want any of the survivors club to survive...
Having not read a book by this author, I had no expectations as to whether this would be a good crime thriller or not. At the beginning, I wasn't holding out much hope as the first ten or so chapters seemed excruciatingly slow! Each member of the survivors club is introduced separately; explaining the events surrounding their connection to the College Hill Rapist and then describing their state of mind in the present day. Meg is the first victim; young pretty but amnesia about all of her past up to and including her attack by the rapist. Carol is a housewife, attacked in her home with terrible violence and is now the one who outwardly appears the most unstable. Lastly there is Jillian who, next to the detectives in this book (Roan Griffin and to a lesser extent, Fitz) is kind of the lead character. Although not raped by the College Hill Rapist, she was visiting her sister and upon entering her home, was attacked viciously by him before he was frightened off. She then later discovered he had already raped her sister and that she was already dead.
Each of the women's back stories to the rapist were the interesting part, but I felt that the present day interaction between the women was too lengthy and I became quickly bored by their survivor club talk. The same really happened with the introduction to Detective Griffin, as although I was interested in why he was just returning to work after time off, I lost interest quite quickly and wanted the story to move on. This was unusual as actually the action starts pretty quickly; within the first couple of chapters Eddie Como is shot in front of a packed court house and then another car bomb goes off nearby that turns out to be linked to the original crime scene. Despite this, I felt that there was a lot of dancing around rather than getting straight to the crux of the story and so it slowed the momentum of the story down considerably.
There are occasional difficulties towards the middle and end of the book too; lengthy discussions between characters that seem to over complicate things, too many scenarios and motives which just get in the way, but nothing that would really spoil any readers enjoyment. Despite this I did start to get into the story bout half way through the book. I found myself hooked and soon I was really looking forward to getting home from work/getting in the bath/reading in bed! The story had enough complication for me but was still simple to read, and it did manage to keep me guessing for most of the book.
As well as writing a good story with a great hook, I found that the author Lisa Gardner is also a master at developing characters and developing their relationships. At first, despite Gillian's horrific year, I didn't like her much; she was cold, and seemed distant and unfriendly. However, through the course of the story, I really warmed to her and particularly enjoyed the budding friendship between her and Detective Griffin.
Griffin himself was an excellent character and I would quite happily read a whole series of books written as him as the main character. He was extremely likeable, smart, fit and good looking but most importantly to understanding him, has flaws that he is still trying to overcome and control. The relationship that developed between him and Fitz was also quite amusing - I think they would make a great double act for a series of crime books!
I would definitely read a book by this author again, especially as from the reviews I've read, most of her books pick up the pace much more quickly than this one did. I have a feeling that a lot of people will lose interest in this before the middle of the book - I've already passed it on to my mum and warned her that it has a very tedious first half but to persevere - which is a real shame as really this has a great plot and some interesting characters.
This is the second book I have read by Lisa Gardner, and after enjoying her other book (which I have reviewed) I had high hopes for The Survivors Club.
Meg, Jillian and Carol all have something in common - they are survivors of the College Hill Rapist, and set up The Survivors Club to not only help each other through their ordeals, but to help catch the man that brutally raped and assaulted them.
The rapist is caught and is due to stand trial in court, that is until he is murdered on the courthouse's steps in front of various news stations trying to get his trial on camera. The police automatically look at his victims - Meg, Jillian and Carol as the suspects in his murder. Eddie is murdered in the morning, but that evening another rape takes place. And all things point to the College Hill Rapist being the suspect, even DNA evidence. But how is that possible?
Sergeant Griffin becomes the lead cop on the case. But this is no ordinary day on the job. Griffin has just had 18mths off after he became mentally unstable over the rape and murder of children committed by the Candy Man (Griffin was again the lead cop on the case). The Candy Man is in prison, but soon Griffin's thoughts are telling him to look again into the peadophile.
~Layout of the book~
The book flips chapters between characters to try and help us understand how the rapes have affected Meg, Jillian and Carol. However, a lot of the chapters are written in the perspective of Sergeant Griffin, who talks us through the loss of his wife, and the dark chapter in his life when he was not only trying to capture the Candy Man, but trying to stop himself losing his mind completely after the Candy Man was caught.
From the start of the book, I took an instant liking to Sergeant Griffin and as the books goes on, I found myself hoping that he would be able to keep things together and not lose his mind again. Not many authors make me have strong feelings for the characters, and when they do, in my opinion their book becomes successful in trying to achieve the whole point of reading books - to get you away from reality for a while.
When some books flip from one person to another, I get all confused with myself and have to go back and remind myself what happened the last time we heard from their perspective. But this book was so gripping, and written so well, that I could leave the book all day, pick it up at night and not have to backtrack to see where the story had got to!
Like I said at the beginning, I had high hopes for this book, after previously reading another Gardner book that I had thoroughly enjoyed, and it lived up to my expectations. I will definitely be looking for other Lisa Gardner books, and she really does seem to know what the readers want in a good book.
If you like crime and thriller books that really do keep you guessing until the very end, then this is a book that should definitely be on your book list. The book couldn't have been anymore gripping or seem more real than the way in which it was written, so this makes the book a huge success in my mind.
The Survivors Club only has 3 members, Jillian Hayes, Carol Rosen and Meg Pesaturo. They don't like to call themselves victims, they prefer survivors. Meg was the first survivor of the college hill rapist, followed by Carol Rosen. Jillian's sister wasn't so lucky, but she herself survived an attack. They helped lead the investigation to catch the man behind this, but now they are the prime suspects for his murder. Did these 3 seemingly ordinary women get driven to seek revenge? Or is this just the start of something much, much deeper?
This was the first book I have ever read by Lisa Gardner, and truth be told I was expecting more of the same old standard reading from this particular genre. However this book gripped me right from the very start. Gardner leads us to believe one thing, however it all isn't as it seems, and as the story progresses, so do the many twists and turns in this book.
The survivors club are 3 very different women, and the book often switches to their perspective of things, and it really helps us see how these women are still coming to turns with their traumatic ordeals even a year after the events. Meg is the youngest, and often referred to as 'lucky' as she suffered from traumatic amnesia meaning she can't actually remember what happened to her, or her life before she was raped. Carol is married to a solicitor, lives in a big house, and was home alone waiting for her husband to come home when she suffered at the hands of the College Hill rapist, who snuck in through the open window. She now can't sleep without the TV on and the relationship with her husband is more distant than ever. Jillian Hayes was visiting her younger sister, Trish, only to see her tied up on the bed already dead, when suddenly she is attacked herself by the College Hill rapist. She has a lucky escape, but is forever haunted by the images of her younger sister.
The main character in the book is Detective Sergeant Roan Griffin. It's his first day back on the job after a considerable amount of time off, which we find out more about as the book goes on. The College Hill Rapist is killed outside the courthouse, seemingly by a hired gun, and Griffin is immediately suspicious of the survivors club, until another woman turns up dead that is, with all details matching the previous cases.
This book was a wonderful surprise for me. I enjoyed the character of Griffin, and I did like how it switched between characters and we could see it from the women's point of view too. The book does get a bit too graphic in places, but this makes it seem even more terrifying and it had me hooked. The case and suspects completely change from the start, and as more clues come to the surface, the whole case slowly takes on a more sinister feel. Near the end of the book it's a race against time, making the book extremely hard to put down, and it's a thrilling and fast pace finish to the end of a brilliant read.
I had no problems with the way the book ended, and it's safe to say I couldn't guess the ending at all during the book, which is just the way a good thriller should be. Gardner does like to throw you off the scent completely, and surprises the reader by going in a different direction. This is the first, but certainly not the last book I will read by Lisa Gardner.
The Survivors Club tells the story of three woman who are drawn together by The College Hill rapist. Each of them, Gillian, Carol and Meg are victims of his crimes in their own way. When the accused is gunned down in cold blood outside the courthouse where his trial is proceeding, the finger instantly points at them. But as another rape crime takes place, it seems that they might have a copycat on their hands. And as Detective Griffin tries to get to the truth, he finds that each of the women have their own agenda, and they'll do anything to protect it. But would they stoop to murder??
Lisa Gardner is most known for her series of books involving Pierce Quincy - FBI agent. But every now and then, she steps away from her stock characters, and creates a brand new set of victims and perpetrators to keep you guessing. This book is a little murky to get started, and it took me a few attempts to start it, but once I was into it, it was swinging.
The women are each credible victims, potraying their own heartbreak in poignant descriptions from the author. She identify's with them, not just because she's a female author, but because their plight is a universal one. Everybody fears somebody breaking into their house when they are asleep, or something happening to their sister, or even just that somebody who has badly wronged you wont face justice. Lisa Gardner captures their heartbreak perfectly.
What she also does though is create likeable and smart detectives. If they occasionally fall into the cliche, its simply because she gives you so much in other places. Mostly though, Griffin is a smart cookie who has determination and grit. As his relationship with Gillian progresses, it makes his search for the truth that little bit more complicated, but he has good morals and will stick to them.
The story itself is one of her stronger ones. She sets the world in which these characters exist up very well, and you can visualise it amazingly well from her descriptions and her settings. Its a world that most of us can relate to. She doesn't need to resort to smuttiness, or insulting generalisations to create a good mystery. All of the characters are flawed in their own way, but mostly they are the embodiement of good.
Lisa's villians are also generally well written. And I'd hate to mention who the villian is here, as it is revealed quite late on, but to give it away would be a shame. However, Lisa is excellent at giving her killers a motive. These are troubled souls who exist in society as normal and approachable human beings. Some of the most shocking crimes in the world have been committed by people you've seen walk to the shops for years, or have passed you by walking their dog. Its the fact that they generally seem pleasant and normal that shocks society to the core. Lisa takes the combination of that shock and the mental or physical abuse that leads people to commit shocking heinous crimes and makes it utterly plausible.
As yet, Lisa hasn't brought any of the characters from this book back to life, which is a shame, because there is plenty of mileage in them. So I hope to see them back in her books soon. Perhaps Griffin might join forces with Pierce Quincy soon. I live in hope.
Jillian, Carol and Meg won't consider themselves victims - they're survivors. Survivors of a terrible crime that hit the headlines and changed their lives for ever. And now that Eddie Como, the College Hill Rapist, has been murdered, shot down outside a packed courthouse moments before his trial, all three women are openly ecstatic that he's dead. They are also the prime suspects in his murder. Detective Roan Griffin has no doubt that the murder of Como was a professional job, especially when the gunman is killed only blocks away from the shooting. But who ordered the deaths of Como and his killer? Could three ordinary women have been driven to do the unthinkable? Has someone in the Survivors Club become a killer? Then another woman is brutally attacked and the hunt is on for a ruthless killer. Someone wants to finish what was started. Someone wants to make sure that no one survives the Survivors Club.