A subterranean New York City thriller from debut author Kearney.
After a vicious attack in the subway that leaves her mother killed and her father traumatized, Melissa Manning’s life is never quite the same. Forced to move from her comfortable family apartment in the Bronx to the much grittier East New York section of Brooklyn, Melissa loses contact with her father after he moves out of state, and she finds herself bearing deep psychological wounds. Though she does her best to move on as she works during the day, attends school at night, and dates her handsome boss, she can’t shake an eerie feeling. This feeling surfaces when a string of horrific murders occurs in the New York City subway system. Victims are killed in unimaginable ways by what witnesses can only describe as crazed homeless people. For New Yorkers like Melissa who rely on the subway system, the fear that they could be next only increases with each new victim. When Melissa’s father, Matthew, appears out of the blue one night on her subway ride home, her initial enthusiasm at his presence wavers as he falls into a period of erratic behavior. As Melissa returns home one day with her boyfriend, she finds her father sitting alone in the dark. What could serve as a suspenseful, even horrifying scene is soon undone by clunky, adverb-filled prose. In fact, characters often do things either slowly, “She smiled softly and slowly nodded her head,” or quickly, “She quickly freed herself from their embrace.” More creative options would benefit the prose. Occasional tangents, such as an explanation of the plight of the homeless, provide a diversion from the clichéd thriller, however, they do not manage to save the story as a whole. Though the plot sometimes delivers moments of sheer creepiness, better delivery could perhaps have turned that creepiness into terror.
Occasional thrills are often lost in too much description.