on March 22, 2008
I'm on a Joy Fielding binge at the moment and most often wonder a bit about her women who tend to act much differently than I would or I would expect them to, so I have never given any of her books a 5/5 - UNTIL I READ THIS ONE. Cover to cover a spellbinding read, great characters, the story neatly finishes up. And the usual surprise is included. Hope the next one I read is just as good.
on February 10, 2006
I will admit that this was a vast improvement over PUPPET, WHISPERS & LIES and LOST which I thought were genuine stinkers. Although I didn't like the protagonist Jamie Kellogg or her pompous sister, the story was compelling.
Jamie Kellogg is a Grade-A fool. A law school dropout, she has a divorce and a married boyfriend on her scorecard. Her late mother was a judge and her pompous younger sister Cynthia is a hotshot attorney enjoying the fruits of a lucrative career. Jamie has been hounded by the pair for years for her impetuousness and foolish, rash decisions. Picking a stranger up in a bar is her most recent stupid move. It is also her most dangerous.
Brad Fisher appears to be the man of her dreams. Jamie throws what little common sense (if she ever had any) to the winds to take off with Brad in her car, a Ford Thunderbird which she obtained after her divorce. She and Brad head off to Dayton, Ohio where Brad claims his former wife absconded with their 5-year-old son. En route to Ohio, the pair do some foolhardy things. Jamie willingly sleeps with Brad; eats up his blandishments and, over the course of a few days his dangerous side crops up. His temper flares; he attacks several boys in a parking lot after they hit on Jamie and he insists Jamie show him where her former mother-in-law lived. Why she agreed to do this and help him break into the woman's home made absolutely no sense at all.
That was bad enough, but meanwhile on Mad River Road two women are living under cover. One woman with her 5-year-old son fled a marriage that went bust and the other, an aspiring writer has her eye on a local police officer and works in a local gym. Both women have sons the same age; both are involved with the gym. One works there; the other cases the place.
In time their lives collide; the "mystery," such as it is was pretty easy to figure out by the time that Thunderbird rolls into town from Florida. The ending is disappointing, but all in all it is better than the last few books. I did like the Ford Thunderbird, though.
Joy Fielding has a knack. Once you start one of her novels it's impossible to put it down or, in this case, once you hear the opening words of her story you don't want to stop listening. With Ralph Fisher she has created one of the most rapacious, goosebump raising psychos in fiction.
This author is known for starting off with grabbers, and she does it again as we hear that Fisher has just been released from prison and the only thing on his mind is vengeance. It doesn't take him long:
"He lowered the knife to her cheek, drew a line in her flesh starting just beneath her eye, then dragged it toward her chin.
"No!" She was screaming now, thrashing from side to side, the blood flowing from the cut on her face onto the white of her pillowcase as he positioned himself between her legs. "I'll tell you the truth. I swear, I'll tell you the truth."
And with that "truth" Ralph heads for Ohio and Mad River Road where his former wife is now living. He's not the only one traveling to that street by the river, just north of Dayton. Jamie Kellogg is an attractive almost thirty young woman who has been suffering nightmares since her mother's death. Her professional life is heading nowhere, and her lover is in the hospital.
It seems Jamie's life might change for the better with the appearance of a stranger. She finds him irresistible and agrees to go with him to visit his son who lives with his mother on Mad River Road. Other residents of that same road are two young mothers, very different women indeed.
Before long these character will find their lives enmeshed in a way none of them ever dreamed possible.
Judith West delivers a fine-spoken, compelling reading of this story which is equal parts romance and revenge.
- Gail Cooke