Sibling rivalry gets out of hand.
In this slender thriller, Marinovich (The Winter Girl, 2016, etc.) pits Craig Krider against his brother, Rob. Egged on by their sadistic father, the boys grew up competing to see who could play the biggest, cruelest practical joke on the other. Anything was fair game, with three exceptions: “No mortal injury. Wait your turn. The game never ends.” Rob once gave Craig’s apartment a surprise renovation (read: rendered it uninhabitable). Craig later slept with Rob’s wife, Rebecca, on their wedding day. And so on. When the novel begins, Rebecca shows up at Craig’s wedding and announces that Rob has died in a car accident. She blames Craig and vows to continue the game herself. The story moves along briskly from there, and Marinovich’s prose is light-footed, at times even artful: A man lies in the road with “his arms stretched out behind his head as if he were surrendering to the empty blue sky.” In keeping with the thriller genre, the plot winds this way and that on its way to the obligatory big twist. If all goes well, the twist ought to come as a complete surprise and, in retrospect, seem inevitable. That isn’t the case here. Marinovich shuttles back and forth between Craig's and Rebecca’s points of view, with each chapter narrated by one or the other. Naturally they’re trying to fool each other, but one of them is also deceiving the reader—for no good reason. Of course, mystery and thriller writers are always trying to trick their readers, but the reader must have all the relevant information, or at the least receive no outright false information (as we do here). Otherwise the game is rigged, and the novelist only wins by cheating.
A readable thriller that doesn’t quite play fair.