Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Winter Girl

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
Knopf Doubleday: 1/19/16
eBook review copy, 224 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385539975

The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich is a recommended, fast-paced psychological thriller.

Scott and Elise are in the Hamptons for Elise to care for her terminally ill father, Victor, during his final days. Elise's mother is deceased and her brother, Ryder, is incarcerated, so she is the only one available. There are several problems with the plan. First, Elise, as far as Scott knows, has never had a good relationship with her father and there was likely abuse when she was younger. The second problem is that, although the doctors said it would be a matter of weeks, the vigil has turned into months, and Victor is still holding onto life, spewing venom. Scott and Elise's relationship was teetering on the edge of divorce before, but the situation now is pushing it to the brink.

Scott, who narrates the novel, becomes obsessed with the lights on the house next door. It's obvious no one is there and that they are on a timer. Scott's obsession with the house escalates and eventually results in his breaking into the house. Scott then talks Elise into accompanying him. This one act uncovers a myriad of secrets, intrigue, and horror.

The first part of the story was compelling and caught my attention. Then it sort of went downhill, or at least I had to ignore niggling questions that kept popping up while I was reading. Questions like: "Why are you obsessed with the house next door and what would compel you to break into it?" and "Maybe I missed something, but does breaking and entering really give people a sexual thrill?" and "Really? Unbelievable... really?"

The good news is that The Winter Girl is a short novel and moves along quickly. If you just want escapism with some titillating, gratuitous sex and violence with a vaguely implausible plot, read on. There isn't a lot of character development here. It is all about the secrets and shocking disclosures. The last half of the novel feels rushed and that is where the action/events seem disjointed and dubious.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.

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