Tuesday, 28 June 2016

"Intrusion" Mary McCluskey

Intrusion

"A domestic drama with a chilling conclusion"

This is the story of Kat and Scott, mourning the death of their son, Christopher. Scott has thrown himself into work, Kat has become reclusive and listless; consumed by grief and loneliness.

Then a face from Kat's past in England turns up in their home town in California. A school friend who appears to have transformed herself into a wealthy and formidable business woman. Can she help Kat move on to a brighter future or is she harbouring a deep grudge and only interested in revenge?

I was drawn to this book after reading several reviews on Twitter and was pleased when I was able to claim it as my June 2016 Kindle First Read via Amazon.

Kat's grief at losing her only son is very well described. I thought the way people's sympathy for her made them "virtually inarticulate" and how they "murmured a welcome and then drifted off to easier company" captured the sense of isolation and loneliness that becomes two fold for Kat; not only has she lost a child but she is also excluded from society, her grief setting her apart and generating huge awkwardness for everyone. Kat can not contemplate returning to work and as Scott's hours become longer and longer, their marriage is threatened by the aftermath of the worse tragedy to befall parents.

When Sarah, Kat's school friend, suddenly appears at a business function, Kat is immediately wary of her. McCluskey sows seeds of suspense and tension with the implication that there is something more untoward about this beautiful, self confident woman and she is not as she seems. Kat herself observes that her voice is soft, "indicating gentleness and was dangerously deceptive." Maggie, Kat's protective sister, is much more vocal about her dislike and distrust of Sarah, using words like "deceptive", "vindictive" and "nasty." But Kat is vulnerable and desperate. Will she unwittingly play right into Sarah's hands?

Sarah is a great character - she is such a good villain. McCluskey keeps you guessing about her true motive and true character throughout the novel. We watch with horror as we begin to see through Sarah's behaviour and manipulation, trying to call out to Kat to see beyond her false hand of friendship. I loved her predatory nature and think she reminded me of several famous female villains.

So much of the story is revealed through suggestion and clues, the reader trying to piece together the reality as it hurtles along to a dramatic finale. The theme of revenge is so powerful and McCluskey shows how it is like a disease - slowing gnawing away at somebody until it consumes them. I always love it when the author gradually reveals the immense planning that has gone on by a character and you have that stomach-churning-penny-dropping moment as you realise the full threat they present to the protagonist - with whom you have emotionally bonded!

It is also a story about Kat and Scott, their marriage and their journey to finally accepting their loss and learning to confront their grief together. I found this really interesting and very sensitively handled. It could have become overwhelming or too melodramatic but it is gently handled to remain authentic, relatable and necessary to the plot.

This is a story with some strong characters, strong themes and it is well written. It basically has all the ingredients of a good thriller, with self absorbed characters bent on self destruction, raw emotion, harrowing pasts, secrets and complex plans to seek revenge. It is a straightforward, satisfying read. Perhaps a little predictable in places and with some slight cliches around the characters but all in all, very readable and enjoyable. A good thriller.

I received "Intrusion" as my June 2016 Kindle First Read.

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