Crooked Lane Books | October 2020 | 288 pgs
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
To many outsiders, Ethan Faulkner may seemed like any ordinary man who leads a simple life with a dog for companionship. He has a successful teaching career and he intends to lead a peaceful life as it is, until his younger sister, Susannah, barge into his life again after all the years she's gone missing on him. Ethan and Susannah have a traumatic past which still haunt them at present and their avoidance of talking about the past has only makes that memory more vivid and painful.
Years ago when they were teenagers, a young woman had knocked onto their door and pleaded for help. Their parents let her into their house, not knowing that she was on the run from two men who were pursuing her. The men barged into the house, and Ethan's father even put in a good fight but alas, Ethan's parents eventually died from gunshots. Susannah was left injured and Ethan's life is never the same again. Their mother's brother, Uncle Gavin, took care of them but his shadowy life often led Ethan wondering about his morality but so far he hasn't seen or heard anything bad about his uncle although he suspected it was all kept under wraps.
While Susannah's return sparks Ethan's curiosity, he is more bothered by Marisa's nosiness over his past. Marisa is simply a random woman whom he'd met in a conference and had a one-night stand but eventually become his new colleague. When he tries to break it off with Marisa due to her persistency in discussing about his past, things become nasty and Marisa retaliated by spreading fake news about him. Ethan is vexed over her actions until she turned up dead and suddenly he becomes the suspect. Ethan doesn't want to confront his past, but Marisa's interest and her death leave him no choice but to dig up the painful memories once again in order to find the truth.
This book surprised me on many levels and it was such a treat to see how the story unravels through the author's engaging writing style and the fleshed out characters. While the pace may come off to be a bit slow and unclear in the beginning, it has a good buildup of suspense and intensity. Towards the middle, the story direction changes, and changes again just when I thought I'd some of the things figured out. This is an intriguing and a well-constructed story about family and friendship, as well as vengeance and consequences. Although this is my first book by Christopher Swann, it definitely won't be my last.
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