Boswell’s (Miriam’s Journey, 2006) latest novel explores the lives of a prominent family desperate to protect its secrets—at any cost.
In her sophomore effort, Boswell introduces the Crandalls, a family brimming with secrets. While matriarch Bella has always doted on her two oldest daughters, international supermodel Diane and assistant district attorney Lauren, she has treated her son, Alan, and youngest daughter, Jenna, with unbridled contempt—all behind closed doors. In public, the Crandalls present themselves as a loving, philanthropic Christian family. While the rest of her siblings lead successful personal and professional lives, Jenna, at age 32, still lives at home, enduring interminable abuse from her mother. With intimidation and scorn, Bella chases away prospective friends and boyfriends. Only Jenna’s longtime friend, Rosa, and new love interest, Dr. Malachai Chase, are strong enough to withstand Bella’s disdain, providing a source of solace in Jenna’s life. The problem is, Rosa has a history of violence that makes all the Crandalls uncomfortable—even her best friend. When someone attacks Bella and she suffers a severe head injury, the police investigate, but the Crandall family members withhold key information. Before the perpetrator can be identified, Lauren becomes the victim of another devious attack. Is the entire Crandall clan the object of a maniac’s fury? Each of them must decide whether to come clean or risk taking secrets to an early grave. Boswell excels at developing multidimensional characters. They spend a considerable amount of time in introspection, however, which impedes the otherwise brisk pacing. Readers unfamiliar with the Hudson Valley may not find the setting especially vivid; places are often named but not well-described. The noteworthy exception is the spooky house on Thornbush Lane, which even the investigating police officers are hesitant to visit. Cleaning up grammatical and spelling errors would have improved readability, but Boswell’s combination of Gothic, fairy tale and realistic elements should carry readers enjoyably through.
Wordy at times, but thrills, chills and substantial characters keep this thriller aloft.