Dark, disturbing, and utterly addictive.
CLÉMENCE MICHALLON was born and raised near Paris. She studied journalism at City University of London, received a master’s in Journalism from Columbia University, and has written for The Independent since 2018. Her essays and features have covered true-crime, celebrity culture, and literature. She moved to New York City in 2014 and recently became a US citizen. She now divides her time between New York City and Rhinebeck, NY.
This novel kept me up until the early hours of the morning. I couldn’t put it down, determined to find out the end and desperate for justice. I can safely say, this is one of my favorite thrillers of the year.
I loved the psychological element to this serial killer story, and thought it enhanced the depth of each character, focusing on the victims instead of the antagonist. This is one of the most fascinating tropes in suspense fiction, and a topic I always find interesting when reading survivor’s accounts in nonfiction too. The author succeeded in writing a very authentic story, and the use of second person POV for Rachel, the woman held captive, created a sense of dissociation further emphasizing a sense of isolation and paranoia. The chapters were short and easy to read, alternating at a rate that created enough tension to keep me turning the pages. After the midpoint I couldn’t put it down.
Alternating between the perspectives of his latest captive, Rachel, his 13-year old daughter, Cecilia, a young woman in town, Emily, and interspersed with his unnamed victims (one through nine), it provided an in depth look at his character from multiple angles, creating a disturbing visual on the types of predators who hide in plain sight. The chapters were short and tense, making this an easy and enjoyable read. I also loved the immersive setting of the Hudson Valley, somewhere I spent a lot of time when I lived on the east coast. The scene in the basement still haunts me when Rachel finds various taped up boxes, and pulls out the sweater she was wearing the day he abducted her. The thought that that could be the last piece of her to ever exist gives me goosebumps all over.
For readers who enjoy psychological suspense, compelling female characters, and multiple POVs.
Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man and a somewhat beloved figure in the small upstate town where he lives. He’s the kind of man who always lends a hand and has a good word for everyone. But Aidan has a dark secret he’s been keeping from everyone in town and those closest to him. He’s a kidnapper and serial killer. Aidan has murdered eight women and there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death: Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed, fearing for her life.
When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his thirteen-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. Aidan is betting on Rachel, after five years of captivity, being too brainwashed and fearful to attempt to escape. But Rachel is a fighter and survivor, and recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years. As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, coming dangerously close to discovering Aidan’s secret.