A young woman who survived a brutal rape seeks retribution against her assailants while directing homicidal rage at men in general in Anderson’s (Winds, 2015, etc.) unforgiving thriller.
The four men who raped and mutilated teenager Megan Williams four years ago left her for dead. She pulls through, awakening from a coma and undergoing reconstructive surgery. Cops think the rapists, still at large, had intended to attack Megan’s then-roommate and older sister, Susan. Megan concurs with the vengeance-minded woman secretly living near Susan, convinced the men will, in due course, follow her sister home from Terri’s Restaurant where she waitresses. Megan, however, hates every male she spots eying her or Susan, and anyone who takes Megan home will suffer relentless torture. Columnist Rodney Engleworth, a former investigative journalist, notes similarities between recent murders and Megan’s attack, with male bodies mutilated in ways comparable to Megan. But there have been other rapes/murders with the same modus operandi over the last several years, and sure enough, Megan sees a man at Terri’s who she believes is one of her attackers. Rod, his editor, Timothy Goodman, and Officer Elsie Dorr track down an unidentified woman caught on camera with one of the victims. At the same time, Megan, with a loaded gun, waits for her suspect to contact his three equally guilty friends. The novel is merciless, with the abused main character committing barbaric acts. In Megan’s first-person perspective, she’s seemingly conversing with the men she’s butchering, but that may be only in her head. She apathetically details her rape and explicitly relays what she’s doing to the men, including mutilating genitals. The investigating team can occasionally be too dense: they initially don’t suspect Megan due to her physical condition, though no one’s seen her (not even Susan) for six months. Sympathy comes in the form of Rod, a widower who lost his wife, Helen, to cancer. But he saturates pages with more dourness, at one point equating Helen with an old car that a mechanic (doctor) couldn’t fix. Fortunately, scenes hinting at a romance between Tim and Elsie temporarily relieve the story of its gloomy tone. The ending is appropriately dark but satisfactory.
An unflinching portrait of a victim-turned-predator; sometimes repulsive but unquestionably potent.