A sexual thriller focuses on a well-liked man hiding a terrible secret.
This novel centers on fit, charismatic, middle-aged businessman Brad Wallace, a company owner, private pilot, grieving widower, and father of a grown son, Jared. Brad’s adjustment to single life has been rocky; he spends almost every evening at Kelsey’s Bar, silently lusting after the women he sees there. When an encounter with a prostitute goes humiliatingly wrong, Brad simmers with anger and hurt pride. He walks through the woods one night and sees a beautiful young woman standing naked on her deck. When she goes inside, he approaches the house for a closer look—and then enters, surprises the young woman (who faints), rapes her, and flees into the woods. For weeks, Brad lives with the horror of what he’s done and with the certainty that “any day there would be a knock at the door and, when he opened it, there would stand two or more police officers ready to read him his rights, slap on the cuffs and drag him off to Shamesville.” But the arrest never comes and he hears nothing about the incident in the news. Just when he’s beginning to breathe easier, he comes home one day to an overjoyed Jared wanting to introduce him to his new fiancee, Nicole Thomas—and Brad is astonished to see the same young woman he raped, who’s happy to meet him. Brad’s guilt and doubts only increase when Jared and Nicole take up living in his house and his son’s new job often sends him out of town. Grodt (Nick Sinclair, PI, 2014, etc.) handles this admittedly manipulative setup with smooth precision. The author increases the biting irony every time Nicole, who claims to remember nothing about her attacker, confides in Brad about how her rape “ruined” her, and how Jared must never know about it. The tense novel manages to be unfailingly gripping without ever trying to enlist the reader’s sympathy for Brad—and without ever allowing the reader to feel quite at ease with Nicole. The book’s well-orchestrated climactic chapters are expertly done and should surprise readers right to the end.
A well-executed revenge drama in which every bad deed carries consequences.