Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.
After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.
Have you ever read a book by a new to you author then immediately felt the need to rush out and buy all their previous work? It has only happened to me a few times in the past, most notably with Karin Slaughter and Harlan Coben, but now I’m adding Catherine McKenzie to that list. I had really high hopes for Fractured based on the blurb alone and I’m so pleased to say that it exceeded my expectations.
Julie is a bestselling author trying to escape a stalker gone too far. Her and her family move to a picturesque new suburb in Cincinnati to try and find their fresh start. Julie finds that fitting into her neighborhoods social circle is more difficult than she anticipated and she really only connects with her neighbor, John. This book uses one of my favorite storytelling approaches, that of flashing back from events in the past to present day and is narrated by both Julie and John. It begins at present day and slowly goes hour by hour through one day, while the past is revealed over the course of the previous year. It’s apparent right from the start that something awful has happened, but McKenzie withholds all pertinent information until the very end keeping the reader primarily in the dark. This approach usually works for me as I’m inherently nosy and it makes me desperate to know what really happened.
Though I’m sadly not a part of any book clubs I found myself thinking that Fractured would be a perfect selection for one. There are so many things a group could discuss, from the cast of characters that you love to hate, especially the queen bee of the neighborhood, Cindy, to the questions this book prompts, like is Julie likable or not? Is there really something off about her? Or is she truly just constantly thrust unwillingly into the role of the victim? The power of individual choices is also very much at play here, it could spawn a great discussion about whether or not these choices really have the power to impact people’s lives.
I was reminded of two books while reading this, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. Both books nailed domestic suspense and I feel McKenzie did the same with this one. This book consumed me in the same manner as the other two and despite having a busy schedule I still managed to finish it in a day, I just had to know how it would all end and what event could possibly effect the lives of so many people. It was a page turning, tightly wound narrative dripping with tension. McKenzie is releasing The Murder Game writing as Julie Apple in November, isn’t that clever? I know after reading this I’m dying to get my hands on that one.
Overall rating: 5/5
Huge thanks to Kathleen Zrelack at Goldberg McDuffie Communications for my review copy.