Monday, August 29, 2016
A bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Daughter, by Jane Shemilt, and The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.
The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.
But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.
She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare. -- Harper
AFTER ANNA by Alex Lake has been on my radar ever since the fine folks at Harper Collins did a video book preview for those of us unable to attend this year's BEA in Chicago. I love psychological suspense novels and this one sounded terrific. I found it interesting that AFTER ANNA was a number one e-book bestseller prior to being published by Harper, and I was certain that I'd love it.
Unfortunately, that wasn't exactly what happened. I thought AFTER ANNA was just okay; and while I do think the premise is fantastic, the book just didn't work on all fronts for me. I can't even tell you why I didn't love it. All I know is that I felt a little disappointed given my expectations after reading the book's description.
AFTER ANNA tells the story of Julia Crowne, a divorce lawyer whose young daughter Anna goes missing one day after school. Julia was caught up in a meeting and her phone was dead, so she couldn't even contact the school that she was running late. No one at the school noticed anything suspicious the afternoon that Anna disappeared -- it was almost as if she went missing without a trace.
Naturally, Julia is beside herself, as is Anna's father Brian. What makes this story is more interesting is that Julia has recently decided that she no longer loves Brian and wants a divorce. The press doesn't miss a beat attacking Julia -- first for being a bad mother and second for being an adulteress who wanted to leave her daughter and husband.
Five days later, when everyone was starting to give up hope that Anna would ever be found, she appears in a convenience store. You might think the story could end here, but you'd be wrong. Things are just beginning to get interesting because Anna wasn't the target. The criminal mastermind is now aiming for the "real" target Julia.
If you're anything like me, you're definitely intrigued by this book's description. It sounds like a great psychological thriller. And for many readers, I'm sure it is a really good read. There were just a few things that didn't resonate with... starting with the character of Julia.
I didn't like Julia at all; and I have to wonder if that was the author's intent. Either way, Julia seemed so selfish to me that I couldn't feel as bad for her as I wanted to. Sure, my heart went out to her because Anna was missing -- isn't that a parent's worst nightmare? And it wasn't even that I exactly blamed her for being late to the school or letting her phone die. What bothered me about Julia was how mean she was to her husband. I understand that she no longer loved him, but she was absolutely vicious.
After Anna returned and Julia became the target, I found that the story became a little predictable. I had a pretty good idea who was responsible for the abduction fairly early in my reading; and while I didn't figure out every detail, when the culprit was eventually revealed I found it to be a little anti-climatic.
Having said all of that, there were definitely some strongpoints of AFTER ANNA. I do think the author has some definitel skills when it comes to storytelling; and I think she was very creative with the novel's plot. I also appreciated that the author attempted to make Julia a complex character throughout the story.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about AFTER ANNA. The book definitely will appeal to many fans of psychological suspense, but it just fell short of being a great book in my opinion.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.