Author: Rebecca Scherm
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Summary: A fascinating story which stars a complex, relatable female character and has a satisfying, slow buildup of tension.
At Julie’s job restoring jewelry and knick-knacks, nothing is what it seems – including Julie. In fact, her name is actually Grace and she’s not from California as she claims. Instead she’s from the small town whose newspaper she checks every night, waiting to hear that two young men who went to jail for a crime Grace planned have been paroled. Once they are, she knows it’s just a matter of time until they come for her. What she doesn’t know is whether or not they’ve forgiven her betrayal.
This book has been compared to Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I thought it was so much better. This book is what The Talented Mr. Ripley should have been. In both books, the main character is something of an anti-hero, longing to have a life that’s not theirs so desperately that they’ll do anything to achieve it. The difference in the two stories is that Rebecca Scherm actually managed to make her character relatable. When reading The Talented Mr. Ripley, I never felt any particular sympathy for Ripley because I couldn’t understand his motivations. Although Grace wasn’t always (or ever, really) someone I’d like to be friends with, I ached for the absence of both affluence and affection in her childhood. This made her drive to preserve a life where she had those things at any cost far more understandable.
The pacing of this story is one aspect which did remind me very much of The Talented Mr. Ripley. The tension didn’t make me want to rush through the book, desperate to find out what happened next, but there was a nice, slow simmer of curiosity throughout. I do sometimes enjoy more fast-paced books, but the pacing of this book was just right for this story and it was fascinating watching how everything played out. I also have to commend this book for starring a fantastic female anti-hero, which is something I would love to see more of. Despite the fact that I thought this blew The Talented Mr. Ripley out of the water, I would recommend this to fans of that book based on the similarities and also to anyone who likes mysteries with a slow build of tension and/or complex female characters.