By Carla Norton
Available now from Minotaur Books (Macmillan)
Royal Palm Literary Award winner
This review was supposed to go up Friday, but I felt that it wasn't done yet. I've felt like my reviews feel very same-y lately, which isn't what I want. I need to burst out of my rut!
THE EDGE OF NORMAL is a thriller, a genre I've been reading more of this year. I blame GONE GIRL. It's not that I loved GONE GIRL (I just liked it), but that publishers are giving their thrillers more of a push. And why not? Thrillers have a wide ranging appeal. They're fast, but have to be clever to deliver twists. They're driven by plot, but often require psychological depth.
Reeve LeClaire was held captive for three years. Her kidnapper was caught only because of a freak car accident. Six years later, she's still recovering when her therapist asks her to travel across the country and speak to young girl, Tilly, who was recently rescued from her kidnapper. He thinks it will help both Reeve and Tilly. It does, but it soon becomes apparent that there's more going on in Tilly's case, and that it isn't as open and shut as it seemed. There's two other missing girls, Abby and Hannah, and Tilly could be the key to finding them in time.
THE EDGE OF NORMAL switches between points of view, and it's a rare example of villain point of view done well. The passages narrated by the villain reveal how he keeps staying one step ahead, when otherwise the plotting might fall apart. The passages are also careful not to reveal his real name. You know he's in other scenes, but it's often hard to guess which person he might be.
I also liked that the book wasn't overly sensational. This is Carla Norton's fiction debut, but she has a background in true crime writing. Reeve and Tilly have been through terrible things, but the focus on them is not that terrible things happened, but how they're moving on. Reeve keeps a secret for Tilly perhaps longer than she should, but it's clear she wants the girl to have as much control and trust as possible.
I also like that unlike many thriller heroines, Reeve goes to the police pretty quickly. (She's laughed off, because the plot wouldn't work otherwise, but I like that she went to the authorities like a normal person.) Reeve gets a couple of potential romantic storylines, but they don't go very far since they aren't about perfunctory romance, but Reeve opening up to chance.
THE EDGE OF NORMAL will leave you at the edge of your seat. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and hope Norton keeps on with this fiction thing. THE EDGE OF NORMAL has fascinating, complex characters, a twisting, fast-paced plot, and it lingers in the mind afterwards. It's everything a good thriller should be.