Edge of Normal
She has changed her name. She has changed her looks. But she cannot change her past. And it is her past, painful and difficult beyond what most people could understand, that is needed now. Because another young girl has been found in a basement, suffering from the shock of having been a captive sex slave. It is such a small sisterhood they must all help each other. But is Reeve LeClaire really ready to mentor another young woman through the hellacious journey towards freedom she herself has so recently travelled?
Her name had been out of the headlines for so long her captor felt it was safe to move her. After all, didn’t the two of them deserve a better space in which to play their games? But his plans are thwarted by a simple car accident; this mistake is how Reeve LeClaire, prisoner of a psychopath from ages 12 to 16, rejoins the land of the living. Fast forward six years and at 22 she is “free” but her life is made up of routine, the safety of rituals which allow her to navigate a world where she is brutally aware of the dangers. Her anchor in this reality is Dr. Ezra Lerner, one of the few people specialized in the psychiatry of captives.
Now another kidnapped girl has been rescued, and coincidentally it is also because of a move. With their cases being so similar Reeve is asked to mentor the young victim, to teach her what will happen in the coming months and to help reassure the family that Dr. Lerner really is the best at what he does. When Reeve arrives, however, things are not quite as she expects. The young girl, rather than being relieved at her freedom, seems to grow increasingly afraid. As Reeve discovers hidden depths to this new case she discovers uncharted strength in herself as well. Her advisory may be smart – but he’s got no idea who he’s dealing with.
With suspense the joy is in the journey of discovery so I won’t tell you any more of the plot. I will say that the characterizations here are all spot on and that you get a sense that this could be happening to people you know. Even minor characters are fleshed out into three dimensions so that you truly feel as if you have landed into the middle of a real life tragedy. This is just one of the ways the writer increases the angst factor.
Another is that the reader knows from the outset that the hidden depth to the case is that they have only one of the perpetrators. The second of the sickos – the smart, sadistic horror known as Mister Monster – is a local police officer, a cunning predator who has developed an elaborate system to ensure that it is impossible to trace him to the victims. An omniscient narrator lets us in on the secrets of how he is able to commit his crimes without leaving any evidence – and just how close he is to his victims. The fact that we know what Reeve, Dr. Lerner and the others do not – that they are up against an informed and connected adversary who is seemingly one step ahead of them – is what ratchets up the tension. The fast, short chapters – often juxtaposing between the villain and the good guys – help give the book an edge of the seat pacing.
The only fly in this ointment was the transition of Reeve from troubled, fragile victim to butt kicking wonder woman. I certainly welcomed the change and rooted for her throughout but I felt the metamorphosis was a bit quick and difficult to accept. It was needed for the plot to progress as it did but we never really saw a catalyst for the transformation nor did we really see the small steps needed for this evolution to take place. It’s a big leap from being afraid of strangers on the street to taking on dangerous criminals in a single bound.
In spite of that small quibble I still found this to be a well written, absorbing thriller. I would recommend it fo fans of suspense fiction, especially those who like Chevy Stevens or Wendy Corsi Staub.