Summary: Welcome, neighbor!
Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.
We know where you live…
After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly. -- Lake Union
I was pleasantly surprised by the novel FRACTURED by Catherine McKenzie. I had read one of her books a few years ago, but it was more women's fiction or chick lit, if you will. FRACTURED is more of a psychological thriller, and I really enjoyed the mystery as well as the twists!
FRACTURED tells the story of Julie Prentice, a mother of two and best-selling author. She and her family have moved from Washington to a quaint neighborhood outside of Cincinnati because their life has been terrorized by a stalker since the success of her debut novel, THE MURDER GAME.
Julie tries to settle into her new neighborhood but she finds it difficult... that is until she meets John Dunbar while running one day. The two hit it off immediately and there's definitely some chemistry between them. Julie quickly learns that the some of her neighbors aren't exactly thrilled with her actions. The author of the community newsletter even begins making rules as a result of Julie's behavior. She's beginning to wonder if moving to Cincinnati was right for her and her family.
Julie has no real intention of having an affair with John; however, she is hoping that by making a friend, her life will be happier. But she quickly realizes that her relationship with John brings some unexpected problems. The reader isn't exactly sure what went wrong, but there are clues throughout the story that give insights into a major tragedy of sorts that involves both Julie and John's families. As the truth is gradually revealed, the tension in the story builds and there are a few twists along the way that make the conclusion very satisfying.
I really liked FRACTURED. I'm always up for an entertaining psychological thriller, and FRACTURED definitely fit the bill. I found the characters to be interesting and well developed, and I appreciated how the suspense in the story continued to build. And just when I thought I knew what happened, there was a twist or two that threw me for a loop. All in all, a very good mystery.
One thing that definitely impressed me about the novel was the author's creativity in inventing this story. The main character, Julie, wrote a novel titled A MURDER GAME that was loosely based on something that took place when she was in law school. It became an instant best-seller for the character, and it ended up being closely tied to some of the incidents in this novel.
In fact, THE MURDER GAME novel in FRACTURED was actually based on an earlier (yet unpublished) novel that Ms. McKenzie wrote about a group of friends from law school and a game they played about how to create the perfect murder. Ten years later, one of the friends is accused of a murder that has more than a few things in common with one from their game. And ironically, another one of the friends is responsible for prosecuting the case.
The entire time I was reading FRACTURED, I wanted to read Julie's book THE MURDER GAME... and now I can! Ms. McKenzie recently released THE MURDER GAME by Julie Prentice as an e-book! I have already purchased it! Isn't it cool how there's a book within a book?
In addition to her creativity, I also really appreciated how well Ms. McKenzie made me think. Of course, there is the question of what really happened in the novel which is interesting enough on its own. However, I was even more impressed with how she made me question the people surrounding Julie, namely her neighbors. There was also food for thought on marriage, friendship, envy and more! I couldn't find a discussion guide, but I do think FRACTURED would make an interesting book to discuss with friends.
I also enjoyed how she chose to write this story. I really liked the clues that something major happened and how the truth was eventually revealed. However, I also liked that she used both Julie and John's voices to tell the story. It was definitely interesting to get both of their viewpoints, and I liked how she wove their stories together.
Overall, FRACTURED was a well-written psychological thriller that will leave you thinking long after you finish it. Highly recommended to fans of mysteries and novels about the human psyche.
Thanks to Goldberg McDuffie Communications 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.