A Double Life
My best friend has had a ton of complimentary things to say about author Flynn Berry, so I was eager to give one of her books a try. When I saw her latest, A Double Life, up for review, I snapped it up and prepared to lose myself in a fast-paced and suspenseful story. Unfortunately, what I got instead was a very scattered, poorly executed book that wasn’t able to live up to the potential suggested by its synopsis.
Claire is a career-oriented doctor in London who is doing her level best to lead a simple life. That’s hard to do when you’re the daughter of one of the country’s most infamous murder suspects, but Claire is careful not to let that aspect of her past become common knowledge. She focuses on the present, giving vague answers to any questions put to her about her childhood. This strategy has worked well for a while, but fate has something else in store for her.
When a local police detective shows up at her door, telling Claire they think they’ve finally located her father, she is thunderstruck. It’s been almost thirty years since the night her father supposedly killed Claire’s nanny, and she hasn’t seen or heard from him since. Her mother swears her former husband was in the house that night, and his car was later found abandoned with blood on one of the seats, but Claire’s father is a rich and powerful man whose friends swear up and down that he is innocent.
Now, Claire wonders if she’ll finally be able to learn the truth about what really happened that long ago night. Is her father really the cold-blooded murderer she’s always thought him to be, or is it possible that he was falsely accused? Suddenly, uncovering the truth becomes the one important thing in Claire’s life. She’s determined to locate her missing father on her own and finally lay all her questions to rest.
To this end, Claire befriends the adult daughter of one of her father’s closest friends. She figures if she spends time with people who knew her father well, she’s bound to learn where he is. I thought that was a rather flimsy plan, but I hoped the author would be able to make it work. Sadly, things only get more ridiculous from there.
Initially, I felt a great deal of sympathy for Claire. It’s obvious she’s done her best to make a good life for herself, but the past seems destined to get in her way. However, as the story progressed and I learned more about Claire, my sympathy began to wane. She’s perfectly willing to use those around her to get what she wants, and she seems to feel absolutely no remorse for doing so. It’s almost as though she thinks these people owe her something, despite the fact that she doesn’t tell them the truth about who she is and what she’s hoping to accomplish. I was also very frustrated by her poor planning; she just sort of hangs around with people, expecting them to tell her what she wants to know. She really should have worked on her investigation skills before entering into this whole situation.
Since Claire’s plans are half-baked at best, Mr. Berry is forced to create a very unrealistic series of events that eventually give Claire the results she has been searching for. I’m normally all for a heroine getting the answers she’s seeking, but I prefer her to actually work for them. It’s less than satisfying when things just fall into someone’s lap.
There are also these odd flashback scenes that seem to be written from the perspective of Claire’s mother. These chapters are supposed to give readers some insight into the relationship between Claire’s parents, but I didn’t find them very useful at all. They don’t really add much in the way of depth to the story, and serve only as a distraction from the main plot.
The ending is perhaps the most ridiculous part of the entire novel, but there’s not a whole lot I can say without giving spoilers. Suffice it to say that it comes completely out of nowhere, and not in the good way so many big twists do. There was no way I could possibly take it seriously. In fact, I’m sure I rolled my eyes several times as I read.
I had such high hopes for A Double Life, but none of my expectations even came close to being met. The plot is rushed and disorganized, and the main character is extremely difficult to like. There are a load of great thrillers out there, and I strongly urge you to give this one a pass and pick up something more likely to satisfy you instead.