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The issues involved needed more careful handling (some spoilers in review)
on 27 April 2012
Domestic abuse is used as a plot device in a large number of crime and suspense novels, as it is here, but I am of the opinion that the author of this book has mishandled the issue and does the real life victims of such crimes few favours.
Lauren's family is controlled by her tyrannical father, Alex, especially her mother and her brother. This story revolves around Lauren's attempts to escape from her father and reveal his abuse and her new relationship with Jesse who is investigating a crime which seems to involve her father. This is a standard romantic suspense novel and the plot is perfectly OK with some reasonable characterisation, I especially liked the character of Jesse.
The problem arises with handling of the effect of the abuse on Lauren and her family. Lauren seems exempt from the violence but has lived with it for years, in fact she appears to be able to be quite independent and even speak back to her father. She has not reported his abuse for the fear of the consequences to other members of the family. It seems, however, that the violence she has witnessed all her life has had no lasting effect, she has no problem with making a relationship with a man and is confident and assertive. Her brother has more difficulty and makes some bad choices in life which result in his death. The author continually represents him as weak and seems to imply that if he had stood up to his father then he would not have died. The mother submits to violence and gives in to it and again is protrayed as weak until Lauren gives her courage, she leaves her husband once and then she easily makes a new relationship with another man as though many years of marriage to an abuser and daily physical violence have had no lasting effect. All this is unreal and treats the whole issue of domestic violence in a very superficial manner. I realise thht you cannot expect the depth of understanding in an easy read such as this one as you find in Roddy Doyle's novel "The Woman who Walked into Doors" but the subject matter needed a little more research and some reality injected into how it was described.
If you are interested in a suspense novel which handles this issue well and demonstrates how it affects people in a lasting way then I advise that you read nearly anything by Karen Rose or "The Perfect Husband" by Lisa Gardner.