While vacationing in Florence with her boyfriend, magazine editor Laurel Imperiole has a chance encounter with a familiar face. When she belatedly realizes she’s just run into her friend Monica’s husband, Jeff, presumed dead for the past decade, the hunt is on. There’s something fishy going on, and Laurel will stop at nothing to find out what. Her friends and family worry she’s getting too deep into some seriously dangerous territory, but Laurel is determined to see this through. Can she keep her wits about her long enough to get to the bottom of what’s going on?
Written by Cathi Stoler, this international thriller follows Laurel as she tracks down the elusive Jeff. She gets more than she bargains for as other players come forth, and she begins to realize just how big this story is. The book is very readable and engaging, which made for a quick and fun read. It seemed that a high level of care went into crafting each sentence and plot detail, but that same care seemed to lead to a somewhat “sanitized” book. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that it felt like the book was lacking in “voice.” The character’s words didn’t fully differentiate them from one another, leading me to sometimes have to look back and see who was speaking. Add to that the careful detailing of backstory and explanation that accompanied every major action, and it feel like too much was said and not enough left for the reader to infer. The word choices were precise, and that felt a touch unnatural. In short, although the read was fairly effortless, the phrasing and writing felt a little more forced.
The storyline was engaging and I found myself really interested in what would happen next. I found some aspects really predictable, however. I really wanted to like the main character, Laurel, but she did some really strange things for someone who seemed like she should know what she was doing. Laurel, Helen, and Aaron reminded me of characters I’ve seen (and enjoyed) in “cozy” type mystery books, but the storyline, the other characters, and the general storyline in this book screamed full-fledged “thriller.” The result felt a bit incongruous to me. The ending seemed slightly abrupt, but it did offer me some closure. It certainly left the door open for a potential second in a series.
Overall, this was a story I really enjoyed reading, all things considered. I was entertained throughout, and I wanted to continue reading to find out how it all ended. I’m interested in reading more from this author.
3.5 /5 stars