Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2017
Gina Royal, the stay-at-home mom to Lily and Brady and wife of Melvin, arrives home after picking the kids up from school to find that someone has drunkenly missed a curve and crashed into her house – into Melvin’s woodshop sanctuary, actually. When the police handcuff Gina, she is furious, after all, she didn’t cause the accident. She is then led to the workshop where the lifeless body of a woman hangs, having been brutally murdered by Melvin.
Gina knew nothing of Melvin’s crimes and gets an acquittal at her trial, but just because 12 people on a jury believed her doesn’t mean everyone else does. Stalkers constantly torment her with vicious and vile emails threatening her and her children’s lives so she goes on the run with her children using fake backstories and aliases for all three of them with the help of an anonymous computer whiz. She manages to keep them safe by discreetly moving them around, changing their identities and always keeping track of the stalkers or Sicko Patrol, as she calls it.
Four years after her acquittal Gina, who is now Gwen Proctor and her children Atlanta (Lanny) and Connor have grown tired of running and are living in Tennessee in an area called Stillhouse Lake. Finally feeling somewhat safe, Gwen buys a house that is beginning to feel like home for all of them. Even though encountering a few rough patches starting out, the kids are settling in and hope to stay, though Gwen is still trying to overcome the near-paralyzing fear that some of the stalkers will find them and act on their threats.
Realizing how much her kids have suffered both because of their father and because of all the moving and hiding, Gwen decides to stay. Both Lanny and Connor are starting to make friends and there are actually a couple of people Gwen has somewhat befriended, even though extremely cautiously and not fully trusting anyone, and she is feeling a bit more grounded.
After being at Stillhouse Lake for several months, the body of a young woman is found with wounds much like those inflicted by Melvin on his victims and Gwen is once again terrified that her true identity will come out and that she might be accused of the crime. But her alias and background are solid, so how would anyone ever find out? Unless someone she trusts betrays her and none of them know her secret either.
Gwen diligently tries to convince herself that they are safe, but she cannot shake the feeling that someone is watching her. And if they are, neither she nor her children are safe and there is no way she can protect them by herself and she knows there is no one she can trust with her secrets.
I heard about this book for a while from Lindsey @ Reading Between the Wines, the Criminally Good Book Club, Janel @ Keeper of the Pages, and Janelle @ She Reads with Cats (These are Instagram links and these folks are great resources for book suggestions!) and after I finally broke down and signed up for Kindle Unlimited (more on that later) and this was the first book that I checked out and read. And oh my goodness, am I glad that I did!
This book was really, really good! In fact, I have already pre-ordered the sequel, Killman Creek, due out December 12, 2017. Stillhouse Lake does have a few gruesome details that may not be for the faint of heart, but if you can gloss over those parts, or just get through them, this book is well-worth reading. There is the perfect amount of detail in what Gwen went through to keep them safe with the identity changes and moving, but not so much that it bogs down the story.
While this is a somewhat dark novel, it is so well-written that, even though I might have been biting my nails, it wasn’t scary as much as it was unsettling to think about the depravity of some serial killers and what they have done. However, it also made me think many times about the aftermath that the innocent family of a serial killer leaves behind and wonder if there are as many cruel and depraved people stalking them as this novel portrays. I am sorry to say that I believe that there probably are.
Considering that I started reading it one afternoon and stayed up until 2 a.m. reading and finished the next morning, I must say that this book was pretty unputdownable and I highly recommend it!