A debut psychological thriller that offers wealth, romance, obsession, and terror in abundance.
In Lovett’s novel, loner businessman Richard White is Warren Buffett-rich, heartthrob-handsome, and crazy as a bag of cats. He’s obsessed with Cadence Weaverly, whom he dated 10 years before when he was a student at Harvard University and she was a high school senior, recently accepted to Juilliard to study the flute. But immediately after she took him to the prom, she kicked him to the curb; although he had looks, brains, and even “impeccable posture,” he talked like a robot and had no friends. Fast-forward a decade and Richard, now a billionaire with a California mansion and “luxury properties in Aspen, as well as the Bahamas, Spain, France, Greece and New Zealand,” drugs and kidnaps his former love, now a professional flautist. He then flies her in his jet to his private island where he aims to marry her. She protests the idea of a wedding but acquiesces when he threatens to hurt or even kill her fiance, Christian Davidson, a New York Philharmonic cellist who has “gentle, twinkling brown eyes.” Richard doesn’t make idle threats and he’s not above committing murder; for example, a servant who tries to help Cadence escape is “dispensed with a quick and painless single bullet to the head.” Cadence seems doomed to spend her life in secluded luxury with Richard, who wants her on a fast track to pregnancy. Overall, Lovett does a good, fast-paced job of quilting together scenes from Cadence’s high school days, her more recent romance with Christian, and her present abduction and imprisonment by the deranged Richard. Sometimes Richard is a genuinely terrifying character, but at other times, he’s too much like a cartoonish, Snidely Whiplash-style villain (“You had your ten years, and now your life is mine,” he tells Cadence firmly. “And nobody else will share it, nobody except our children”). It’s also unclear why he is so attracted to Cadence, or why, in the past 10 years, this attractive jet-setter couldn’t have acquired a good therapist—or a romantic match who would enjoy his positive attributes.
A sometimes over-the-top thriller whose frenetic cadence will keep readers’ heads spinning.