Hardcover, 352 pages
Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving behind her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood.
On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz goes to check on her sleeping children, all her anxiety comes roaring back: Ally and Reed are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of the kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in.
Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind—but in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant she realizes that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room that night. Someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Though she knows that Ally and Reid are safe, Liz will stop at nothing to find them and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her own hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.
Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman is a recommended novel of suspense that explores one woman's nightmare.
In Ruin Falls Liz Daniels is heading off on a rare vacation with her family to visit her in-laws farm in western New York. Liz, her husband, Paul, and their two children, Reid and Ally, live in a remote area of the Adirondack Mountains. Paul keeps a tight rein on his family as far as where they go and what they eat so a trip away is almost an unheard of experience. The trip turns into a nightmare after they decide to stop and spend the night in a motel. When Liz wakes up the next morning her children are gone - vanished. It soon becomes clear when Paul later vanishes that rather than a stranger abduction this is a domestic custody situation and Paul is the abductor.
She returns to her home to try and find the cues that Paul must have left that will indicate where he took the children - and why he took them. Liz is racing against time. Not only must she use all her wits to try to uncover the reasons for Paul's behavior and hopefully the answers to where he has taken her children, she also needs to muster up her own strength and belief in herself in order to find the answers.
The tension created at the beginning of Ruin Falls was so thick it had me biting my nails. Having your children abducted, or bothered in any way, is right up there near the top of the list of a mother's worst fears. I could totally understand Liz Daniels fears and how having a nightmare occur in real life would shake you up. To then have your husband be the likely culprit is unthinkable. Then, unknown to Liz, there are several other stories playing out that will all connect together.
While Ruin Falls is a novel of psychological suspense and it does create an atmosphere of tension and dread, I must also admit that after all the tension in the first part of the book, it then seemed to slow down for me and the ending was anticlimactic. I was totally in and engrossed at the beginning but once the reason was sort of revealed it seemed nonsensical and wasn't as well developed or explained as it could have been. Or perhaps I just wasn't buying the explanation which lessened the element of suspense for me. I think better development of the character of Paul could have helped.
Milchman is a good writer, however, so I expect she'll have plenty of opportunities to totally impress all of us even more in the future.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Random House for review purposes.