Though Depth Perception is a tightly written novel of romantic suspense by an author at the top of her game, it’s odd that the first thought that comes to my mind as I start this review is to make it clear who shouldn’t read this book: Anyone who just can’t bring themselves to read about the murder of children or anyone who’s anywhere remotely close to being depressed.
The fact is, I wasn’t depressed when I started this book, but both the action within and the circumstances of the characters are so very bleak, that the book kind of put me there. Ultimately, though I recommend the novel with the caveats above, anybody picking it up should be aware of the possible consequences.
Both heroine Nat Jennings and hero Nick Bastille have suffered the most horrific of tragedies – that of loosing a child. Three years earlier Nat awakened in the middle of the night to find her young son and husband brutally murdered. Narrowly escaping the killer herself, she is shunned by the residents of her small Louisiana town and hounded by the local prosecuting attorney who believe she committed the murders. When her worst fears are realized and she is finally arrested, Nat takes what she sees as the only way out and attempts to commit suicide by slashing her wrists. But while she doesn’t succeed in killing herself, she does manage to put herself into a coma from which she doesn’t emerge for two and a half years.
That emergence (which occurs shortly before the start of the action in the story) comes along with both a terrible and wonderful gift: Nat falls into epileptic-like trance states in which she produces automatic writing containing messages from her dead son. These increasingly frightening messages provide Nat with the clues she needs to find the real killer. Even more horrible for hero Nick Bastille is the fact that Nat’s son also identifies his dead son – a child he believed drowned – as another victim of the serial child killer still on the loose.
Nick, once a successful New Orleans restauranteur, is on the skids in the worst kind of way. Wrongfully convicted of setting the fire that destroyed his restaurant and killed a member of the cleaning crew, after six long years in prison, parolee Nick returns to the small town and run down farm owned by the father from whom he has long been estranged. Still reeling from the death of his son during his prison term and struggling to put back together the pieces of his life, Nick is understandably both skeptical and furious at Nat’s assertion that his son was the victim of a murder. Soon enough, however, Nick is convinced that Nat’s messages are real and, even worse, that other children of the town could well be the killer’s next victims.
See what I mean about the grim plot and the equally grim circumstances of the main characters? Frankly, I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up in the bookstore if I was fully aware of just how bleak everything is, but I think that would ultimately have been my loss. Ms. Castillo has a wonderful hand with both characters and dialogue and, though I wasn’t exactly having a good time while reading the book, I was intrigued and interested and would have found not finishing the book to be an impossible task. But, on the other hand, would I ever choose this book to re-read? Not a chance.
In fact, Ms. Castillo does such a terrific job in bringing both Nat and Nick to life that I think that’s ultimately the key to the reason why I found this book to be more than a bit depressing – these people seemed real to me and so, of course, did their horrific circumstances. These characters are just about as wounded as it’s possible for any human to be and the author doesn’t hesitate to put them through the wringer within the book’s pages. Still, Depth Perception is firmly set in the romantic suspense genre and I hope no one considering reading this book will view it as a spoiler if I assure you that there is a manner of HEA here. Everything isn’t and can’t be fixed, mind you, but I certainly felt much better about Nat and Nick at the end of the book than I did at the beginning. I should also say that I found the paranormal aspects of the book to be intriguing. As someone hooked on the SciFi show Ghost Hunters, I’m starting to wonder more and more if sometimes the dead really can communicate with living. It’s certainly an intriguing possibility and one that I appreciated exploring here.
Is Depth Perception for you? It most assuredly is if you’ve read all the caveats in this review and still find yourself interested. As for me, I haven’t read anything by the author before, but have heard from a reliable source that this one is a bit grim even by the author’s standards. Still, even with that assurance, I’ll make certain I’m not anywhere even remotely close to a “blue” spell when I decide to check out the author again. She’s good, all right, but she certainly doesn’t hesitate to explore some pretty dark places.