Top critical review
I'm sorry I wasted my time on this far-fetched, ludicrous tale. One foolish star.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 18, 2022
UGH! I'm tired of cookie-cutter romances, so I decided to read a thriller for a change of pace. Big mistake! I can't imagine why this foolish story has so many good reviews. I hate to waste another minute of my time on such a far-fetched, ludicrous tale, but I seriously need to vent. (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!)
Okay. Here's the plot. Six high school seniors--three boys and three girls--go to an isolated farmhouse on a stormy night to drink and have sex. During the night, two girls and one boy are stabbed to death. Our heroine (Brooke) is nearly strangled to death but manages to escape, leaving her boyfriend (Shane) and her best friend (Tim) unconscious on the floor. In court, Tim testifies that he hit Shane with a baseball bat after Shane stabbed him, so Shane must be the murderer. Brooke assumes Tim is telling the truth about Shane and backs up his testimony. Shane is sentenced to life in a maximum-security prison.
Fast forward eleven years. Brooke--now a nurse practitioner--gets a job in the prison's medical ward. (The victim of an inmate would never be hired to work in a prison where he's incarcerated, but hey--it's fiction.) Naturally, she gets to treat Shane's various injuries, and as they talk, she begins to wonder if she's made a terrible mistake. Shane swears that Tim is the real murderer; he actually stabbed himself to make it look like Shane was the killer. Brooke wants to believe Shane, who's the father of her ten-year-old son (Josh). But she also trusts Tim, her best friend since childhood. Which guy is telling the truth?
This whole Shane or Tim mystery consumes the first 70% of the book. Brooke forms a romantic relationship with Tim, which lasts until she goes to his house one night and finds a woman's dead body in the basement. Yikes! Is Shane telling the truth? Is Tim--a mild-mannered assistant principal--really a cold-blooded killer? After all, he did date a girl who ended up murdered in high school. Convinced of Tim's guilt and certain he's the guy who tried to strangle her at the farmhouse, Brooke recants her earlier testimony. Shane is released, and Tim goes to prison.
Everything is hunky-dory now, right? Wrong. Brooke takes Shane home to meet their son, but Josh likes Tim and is luke-warm about Shane, with good reason. After a night of sex with Brooke, Shane insists on going out to the old farmhouse to start fixing the place up. Finally, at 90% in, the plot takes some twisty turns and falls into far-fetched foolishness. Shane takes Josh into the snowy woods and refuses to bring him back to the farmhouse.
Panicked, Brooke goes down the road for help and sees a car driven by none other than Margie, Josh's sweet, middle-aged babysitter. Will Margie save the day? Heck, no! She's not what she pretends to be. Margie is actually Shane's mother, and she's totally insane. She and Shane are responsible for eight murders, including the deaths of Brooke's parents. Why?
Here's the crazy reason for all this bloodshed. Years ago, Shane's mother fell in love with Brooke's father, but he refused to leave his wife for her. All these people had to die for her twisted notion of revenge, with Brooke as the main target. How ridiculous! I swallowed most of the plot up to this point, but this far-fetched, ludicrous ending spoiled everything. Shane's mother tries to shoot Brooke but shoots herself instead. Josh kills Shane by beating him to death with a large icicle. (I'm not kidding.) Tim is released from prison, and I suppose he and Brooke will live Happily Ever After.
Despite flawless proofreading, this tale earns just one foolish star from me.