Rebecca Whitney has managed to craft a detailed portrait of a highly dysfunctional central romance in the middle of her debut novel. It’s a psychological thriller about a woman named Rachel who is trapped in a very controlling marriage with David. She has been conducting a long term affair when the novel opens, and happens to be returning from a assignation with her lover when she accidentally runs over a local homeless man.
The novel alternates between Rachel’s past and her present at regular intervals without losing the pace of the initial mystery. It’s a impressive feat especially as it’s Whitney’s first full length novel. However it’s not a novel that you can approach without full concentration, as it would be very difficult to fully understand the many twists and turns in the story if you’re not really focused.
The sections when Whitney reveals the depth of the dysfunction and cruelty which exists in Rachel’s marriage can be a little hard to take. The David character is cold, and subjects Rachel to physical violence and emotional cruelty which I found difficult to read about. There is a part about him leaving her locked up with his two pet dogs, and no real human sustenance. Whitney writes wholly from Rachel’s perspective, and maintains Rachel’s characteristics throughout, there didn’t seem to be anything in her reactions which seemed to be wildly out of character.
However Rachel isn’t a character that I could truly connect with, as the situations that she finds herself in, are wholly out of my sphere of experience. I did want to see her escape from the abusive marriage, but found her decisions to be a little unusual, as she tried to get away.
It’s a tribute to Whitney’s high standard of writing prowess that I found myself reading to the very end, and I even want to see what the second novel will be like. She is working on another psychological thriller, according to the author’s details.