RATING : 3.5/5
Published by : Allen&Unwin (AU)
In the post of the 11 Thriller Weddings, I suggestedTHE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford, published by HarperCollins, as one of the most interesting titles for the lovers of Chick Noir.
An interesting debut that is somewhere between the family drama and the psychological thriller that explores the mind of a tormented and disturbed womanwith the desperate need to control her mental hillness and the fear of being responsible for the brutal murder of her neighbor.
New Jersey, Paterson. Dana Catrell wakes up with a hangover. She is confused and does not remember much of the afternoon spent at her neighbour's home , Celia, drinking sangria. All she can recall is the vague memory of some argument, but she can't remember well what happened ....
Suddenly ambulance's sirens bring Dana back to reality with the shock discovers that Celia was attacked and died as a result of serious injuries. The worsening of her mental stability, that Dana had been able to keep up with years of medications and sessions with a couselor, shatters into pieces when she realizes that she was the last person to see her friend alive, but even more shocking is the memory of the quarrel that took place between the two the same evening. It is possible that in a fit of fury she killed Celia? If only Dana could remember the reason why thy had that argument.....
Once again we found the unreliable narrator. Susan Crawford gives us a front row seat on the chaos that has become Dana's life. We are witnessing her relapse into a disease that has afflicted her since childhood, bipolarism. The transfer of her son to college and the probable betrayal of her hateful husband, seems to have great influence on the mental health of the woman, who for some unspecified reasons is not taking medications nor visiting a specialist. After all, if she do that , we would be missing the key element of this novel which is the total inability of Dana to focus on that afternoon's events. She doubts of the few memories she have and in a moment of vulnerability as this she feels totally detached by reality . ( a common element already seen in several other psycho thriller)
Aside from the story of Dana, Crawford also invites us into the life of Jack Moss, the detective assigned to the case of Celia, his son Kyle, who may or may not be a suspect and Lenora White, the assistant prosecutor who pressed on Moss to procede to the arrest of a case that seems obvious. Each of these side stories overlaps the main plot by moving the reader's attention from the already confusing story told by Dana.
A conclusion that lack personality . No matter how minor it is a character, Crawford deepens them all and eventually weaves their stories together in a conclusion that is far from be satisfactory. In the 300 pages of the book she mounts a growing expectation for a prominising great final twist, but unfortunately, it ends around easily and without the drammatic turn of events that I was waiting for. Unfotunately who's the culprit is clear already at two-thirds of the story but we have to wait until the very end to understand the whys and hows.
A book, which, as the author herself describe, would like to be a mix between Desperate Houswifes and Law & Order, but it lacks of key elements tipical of crime fictions that would make the reader's hairs stand.
Susan Crawford is definitely a talented writer, and, overall, this book is really a successful debut, a book by the great potential that combines a well-written and intriguing storyline with twists well sited and a powerfull psychological component really well described. Despite a simple and disappointing conclusion, I would still recommend this book because of its twisted and intriguing plot.
I'm curious to see read Crawford's second novel that came out on April 26th and is called THE OTHER WIDOW. I will surely look forward to read it.