Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review: "Killman Creek" by Rachel Caine

After delivering a heart-pounding, stay-up-real-late-to-finish-it thriller with Stillhouse Lake (which was one of the best books I read last year), Rachel Caine returns with Killman Creek, another adrenaline-boosted installment in this series. Once again, she delivers quite a punch!

“For years I clung to a terrible fiction of a marriage—a life in which Melvin Royal controlled every aspect of my reality, and I failed to realize or fear it. Gina Royal, the old me, the vulnerable me…she and the kids were Melvin’s camouflage for his secret, terrible life. On my side of the wall, I had only known that it all seemed so normal. But it never was, and now that I’ve left Gina Royal behind I clearly see that. I’m not Gina anymore. Gina was tentative and worried and weak. Gina would be afraid that Melvin would come hunting for her. Gwen Proctor is ready for him. I know in my heart that it all comes down to us. Mr. and Mrs. Royal. In the end, it always has.”

Gina Royal seemed to be living the perfect suburban life—loving (although slightly controlling) husband, two beautiful children. Then one day that illusion shattered when she and the world realized Melvin was a brutal murderer, and he perpetrated his crimes in their garage. After being arrested as his possible accomplice and facing the scrutiny of those who wondered how she could be so oblivious, Gina took the kids and fled, changing their names and hiding where she hoped those who believed she was responsible for her husband’s imprisonment and promised to make her pay couldn’t find her. Gina became Gwen Proctor, a kickass, take-no-prisoners, fiercely protective mother.

But even when they thought they found security in idyllic Stillhouse Lake, that illusion was again shattered. And although she wants to flee with her kids again, when she learns that Melvin has escaped from prison, she knows that he will stop at nothing to find her and the kids. She cannot—she will not—let him get to them, but she’s more than willing to use herself as bait if she has to.

Melvin isn’t willing to end Gwen’s anxiety anytime soon, however. Aided by a shadowy group of hackers and thugs, Melvin won’t be happy until he destroys Gwen and everything she holds dear, especially her already-shaky relationship with their children. There comes a point when even Gwen can no longer completely believe she didn’t play a part in Melvin’s crimes, leaving her completely isolated and vulnerable.

“You never understand how vulnerable you are in this age of social media until something breaks against you, and then…then it’s too late. You can shut down Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; you can change your phone number and your e-mail. Move to new places. But for dedicated tormentors, that isn’t a barrier. It’s a challenge.”

Is there anyone left for Gwen to depend on, or should she just surrender to Melvin’s manipulations, if it means saving her children? Will that even satisfy him? And as far as the kids are concerned, do they know whom they can trust? Will their decisions lead them into the trouble their mother warned them about, or will they realize a different truth about her, too?

Killman Creek is an excellent follow-up novel, nearly as strong as its predecessor. In this book, Caine shifts narration between Gwen, her kids, and Sam Cade, the mysterious man the family has called friend even though his motivations are questionable.

Caine is one terrific writer. She can balance razor-sharp action, nail-biting suspense, and moments of actual emotion, as she explores what hell Melvin hath wrought, and its effect on everyone involved in the story. There are times that you don’t know what is going to happen, or whom you should trust, and there are times you want to scream at the characters for making stupid blunders.

I’ll admit I would have been happier had the book been narrated just by Gwen and Sam, but I understood the perspectives the kids brought to the story, and the deepening of the narrative by doing so. As annoying as some of their actions were, they seemed true-to-life, especially for kids in the middle of such a maelstrom.

While you can read this book without reading Stillhouse Lake, why would you? Start at the beginning and then read this book. You’ll savor two taut thrillers in the hands of a badass writer. I can’t wait for what comes next!!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.

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