He Will Be My Ruin
I’ve been a fan of K.A. Tucker’s writing for the past couple of years. I greatly admire her ability to explore the true depths of the human heart, looking at both the positive and the negative emotions that draw two people together. When I heard about He Will Be My Ruin, Ms. Tucker’s first attempt at a thriller, I knew I had to pick it up.
Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparks is in New York City to pack up the personal effects of her long-time friend Celine who killed herself two weeks before the story opens. Maggie is having a hard time believing that such a pretty, vivacious young woman would have done such a thing, but the police seem certain. According to them, Celine got into bed, took a bottle of pills, chased them down with some vodka and just slipped away. When Maggie asks them to reconsider their initial findings, they refuse, citing Celine’s history of mental illness and her overly emotional involvement with men. Despite all of this, Maggie can’t help but think there’s more to the story. Could Celine’s death have been something other than suicide?
While packing up Celine’s bedroom, Maggie discovers ten-thousand dollars in cash and a diary secreted in a lockbox Celine had been given as a girl. Desperate to know what else her friend might have hidden, Maggie begins to read Celine’s innermost thoughts, fears and secrets, finding out more than she bargained for along the way. Celine was living a secret and possibly dangerous life. Could someone have learned her secrets and killed her as a result? And what about the man Celine was seeing, a man no one, not even Maggie who was supposedly Celine’s best friend, knew about?
Desperate for answers, Maggie decides to put remain in New York until she uncovers the truth. She feels she owes it to Celine and to Rosa, Celine’s mother and Maggie’s former nanny. She hires a private investigator who assists her in her attempts to reconstruct Celine’s last days on earth. With the help of Ruby, an octogenarian mystery writer who lived across the hall from Celine, and Hans, a flamboyant connoisseur of antiquities, Maggie begins to chip away the layers of secrecy surrounding her friend. Unfortunately, this puts her directly in the path of a killer, someone desperate enough to stop at nothing to keep the events of Celine’s last day a secret.
The story is told mostly from Maggie’s point of view with Celine’s diary entries filling in the gaps. This style works well, allowing the reader to see inside Celine’s mind as we discover her secrets right along with Maggie; and this serves to ramp up the suspense, keeping me engrossed until the end of the story.
There are a few plot elements I found a bit predictable, and Ms. Tucker’s attempt to throw in a red herring was not quite as successful as it might have been. Having said that, I feel compelled to add that this was a very good first attempt at writing a thriller. Ms. Tucker shines as a romance writer, and I’m eager to see what else she has up her sleeve. She writes believable and relatable characters who find themselves in impossible situations, something I admire no matter the genre.
Maggie is an incredible heroine. I loved her dedication to helping those less fortunate than herself. Since she’s heiress to one of the world’s premere oil dynasties, she could very easily have been pampered and entitled. Fortunately, Ms. Tucker chose to take a different tack, creating a deeply principled woman who spends her time in underdeveloped countries building homes and promoting education. Her loyalty to Celine’s memory is truly admirable, and I loved the way she put her life on hold in order to find out the truth.
I did miss the sizzle of sexual tension that has been present in Ms. Tucker’s previous books, but the edge-of-your-seat suspense was a good substitute. I urge everyone, whether or not you’ve read this author’s work before, to give He Will Be My Ruin a try. Although it’s not perfect, it’s definitely a cut above a lot of what else is out there.