I found this book depressing and could not engage.
It was difficult to know how to judge this as I discovered when I had completed it, that I had not got the full book, just a sample.
As it went, it was fairly typical of the genre, but the reason for the title had not yet been made clear. when the sample ended.
I would probably give it a 3 star rating if it were complete, but feel that I can only give a sample 2 stars as I cannot be sure of where the story was going.
Richard has disassociative disorder amnesia and has asked Raker, a PI who specialises in missing persons, to find out who he is.
Raker delves into what Richard knows – or believes that he knows – but starts to become suspicious about some of the people who have been helping Richard find his identity.
The story is slightly confusing at the beginning as there are sub-stories being told also which are inserted into the text, randomly it would appear, between the main chapters. But by half way through the book, if you persevere, which I did as I became fascinated by what was being discovered by Raker, the links become clear. Maybe if you had read previous books in the Raker series this is a typical method of storytelling by the author and it would not have impacted in the same way. But I haven’t.
Nonetheless, you did not need to know anything more about Raker other than he was very persistent even when threatened with violence and even when actual violence was performed upon him. He admitted to being scared but still he went on his voyage of discovery.
I really wanted to know how Richard came to be found on the shore and why his memory was missing and the story drew me in. Twists and turns and unexpected events trap you into reading yet more and not putting the book down.
A novel that chills.
The mind of ‘Milly’ is cunning – as she has been taught to be by her mother. She shares what she thinks is needed and required, and that which will progress her objectives. She seems to have 2 main objectives, one being to ensure that her mother goes to prison for as long as possible and thus she will not have to return to the house of horrors that she was brought up in; and 2 to remain with Mike as a foster child, whatever that takes.
Milly manipulates the situation and we learn just how far she will go as the story develops. She has a Good personality and a Bad personality and she is aware of each and feels no shame when she uses her Bad personality to undertake a behaviour that will bring her closer to one of her goals. She is aware of what is morally correct to do in situations but often behaves differently, justifying her behaviour from her own goals.
In the book her foster sister has a manipulative personality and she is unaware of just how far Milly understands her and can counteract her when necessary. Her mother did teach her a great many ways to manipulate others.
Yet Milly is lonely. Her life with her mother did not permit her to have friends. She would like to be accepted as who she really is but the very heavy publicity about her mother, who is now on trial due to Milly, prevents this. Only a very few are permitted to know who she really is as she is the prime witness against her mother.
The story is told by Milly so we see her thinking and rationales as the trial of her mother develops and as her relationship with her foster family is impacted by the trial.
You feel very sorry for Milly. Her mother twisted and warped her through abuse and yet her awareness of good and bad means that in the end, when the full extent of her behaviour is revealed, you realise that she is probably not fit to live in normal society.
A story that gets darker as it develops.
So here is the fairly typical West Coast USA couple. Well educated, good careers with some previous experimentation, living together in a bijou house in a nice neighbourhood. Marriage seems the next and logical step.
And a friend introduces them to this ‘organisation’ that started in Ireland, which aims to help people have better marriages and fewer divorces.
Strangely, to join the organisation you have sign a contract, and then are given a very large book of rules of behaviour. The rules are very precise and specify minutiae – as an example, if your spouse rings you, you must answer within 2 rings. Now you may ask, what happens if you answer in 3 rings? And how would the organisation know? Which is where the story starts getting creepy. Apparently they do know. And you will be ‘reported’ and ‘dealt’ with.
The story is told by Jake, who is a counsellor and therapist, and it is his marriage to Alice that is examined in the book.
If you are married, or about to be married, there are definitely some elements of this story that you might want to think about. How often do you talk to your partner properly? Not just about day to day chores and work. How often do you surprise them with a gift? For no reason other than that you want to?
The statistics about divorce are horrendous and also those about how often marriage counselling fails. So the idea of (self) help and how to make a successful marriage appeals. But, I suspect, that what works for some couples, works for them alone, just because they are who they are, and not someone else. So don’t copy their behaviour!
Which is why I don’t think that the concept of the Pact was useful as an idea from the cult leaders. Who clearly had the wrong sort of psychological training…..
I really like the story and got more and more horrified as the story went on. And the final chapter was completely unexpected.