Two Portland, Oregon, teens investigate their loved ones’ inexplicably strange behavior and soon find themselves in danger in Field’s (Nocturnal, 2015, etc.) thriller.
When Karl Morgan’s older sister, Stacey, shows up late for work the morning after her date with ophthalmologist Adam Reynolds, she doesn’t seem to be herself. She ignores her beloved cat, too, and also candidly tells Karl about her sexual escapades. As the days go on, Stacey only gets worse, becoming more erratic and even violent with their mother on Christmas Day. Convinced that his sister is repressing some kind of trauma (possibly a date rape), Karl looks for answers, starting with Adam, whom Stacey had met on an online dating site. Seventeen-year-old Dawn Flint, meanwhile, is in a similar predicament; her mother, Isobel, connects with a woman named Maxine via the internet and, post-date, is acting very different. Specifically, she unnerves Dawn with her shifting facial expressions, which show apparent terror one second and a complete lack of emotion the next. As the teen tracks down Maxine’s previous hookups, Karl enlists the aid of a private investigator. Later, he spots a mysterious, gray-haired man whom Stacey had mentioned during hypnotherapy. Karl and Dawn eventually team up but soon confront something that’s much bigger and more horrifying than they anticipated. Field’s somber tale thrives on keeping readers largely in the dark, especially regarding exactly what happened to Stacey and Isobel. There are, however, enough hints and speculations to provide readers with a thoroughly unnerving experience. Adam, for example, sports a perpetual grin that won’t go away—even as Karl punches him in the face. A haunting dread surrounds the story and its main characters, who don’t know who all the bad guys are or even how many there are. The pace is relentless, with very few moments of humor or relief. Although the bloody and unforgettable final act offers resolution, Field shrewdly keeps some ambiguity alive, and the closing line of dialogue will surely give readers jitters.
An impressive, creepy tale that may make some online daters cautious.