Review: The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut


Release date: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Ecco

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


The riveting story of a woman convicted of a brutal crime, the prison psychologist who recognizes her as his high-school crush—and the charged reunion that sets off an astonishing chain of events with dangerous consequences for both

As an inmate psychologist at a state prison, Frank Lundquist has had his fair share of surprises. But nothing could possibly prepare him for the day in which his high school object of desire, Miranda Greene, walks into his office for an appointment. Still reeling from the scandal that cost him his Manhattan private practice and landed him in his unglamorous job at Milford Basin Correctional Facility in the first place, Frank knows he has an ethical duty to reassign Miranda’s case. But Miranda is just as beguiling as ever, and he’s insatiably curious: how did a beautiful high school sprinter and the promising daughter of a congressman end up incarcerated for a shocking crime? Even more compelling: though Frank remembers every word Miranda ever spoke to him, she gives no indication of having any idea who he is.

Inside the prison walls, Miranda is desperate and despairing, haunted by memories of a childhood tragedy, grappling with a family legacy of dodgy moral and political choices, and still trying to unwind the disastrous love that led to her downfall. And yet she is also grittily determined to retain some control over her fate. Frank quickly becomes a potent hope for her absolution—and maybe even her escape.

Propulsive and psychologically astute, The Captives is an intimate and gripping meditation on freedom and risk, male and female power, and the urges toward both corruption and redemption that dwell in us all.


I haven’t seen much early buzz about The Captives and I’m not sure why, the blurb alone is eye catching and the cover caught my eye immediately as well, and then I started reading this gem. A profound and sharply intelligent crime novel is a rarity, don’t get me wrong, I love my crime fiction and devour it weekly, but most of the books that fall under the umbrella of CF don’t hold a candle to The Captives, this is a special book from an incredibly talented writer, they type I won’t soon forget.

This flips back and forth between Frank and Miranda’s perspectives and each were equally enthralling. Miranda is in prison, at the start her crime is blurry but you do know she is serving serious time and her lack of hope and total desperation is heartbreakingly apparent. Frank may not actually be a prisoner himself but he is a slave to his own tortured soul and his pain and despair was also woefully raw. Their relationship is harrowing yet beautifully restrained, not having any clue how things would play out kept me on the edge of my seat throughout and you just know things won’t end well for these two.

Immergut’s prose is lyrical and astute, her knowledge of the inner workings of a women’s prison is glaringly clear and heart wrenching all at once, some of these women’s personal stories were achingly sad. There was such an authenticity to this aspect that it was hard to stomach at times, but nothing so disturbing that I was bothered too much. I was reminded of Laura Lippman, it had that same well executed sophistication as both her plotting and writing has and I bet fans of her work will enjoy this one as much as I did.

The Captives in three words: Intelligent, Enthralling and Keen.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher and Broadside PR for my review copy.

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