Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Girl in the Dark

Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw
HarperCollins: 2/16/16
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062424792

Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw is a very highly recommended thriller/mystery told through the distinct voices of two different characters. This is Pauw's American debut novel.

The first character we meet is Ray Boelens. Ray was convicted and imprisoned for killing his neighbor Rosita Angeli and her four-year-old daughter, Anna. He's now being moved to a forensic psychiatric institute. It is clear that Ray is on the Autism spectrum and has a difficult time with emotions and reading the motives of others.

Iris Kaselstein struggles with her job as a lawyer and being a single mother to three-year-old Aaron. Aaron has some behavioral issues and Iris is doing the best she can to care for him while still working. Luckily her law firm allows her to work part time. It is challenging when a call from Aaron's daycare necessitates halting an interview with a client. The client's family has long-time ties with the firm, so even though he is a sleaze-bag facing charges for using an underage teenager in a porn film Iris still has to represent him. She tries to call her mother to pick up Aaron, but Iris's mother is a cold and distant self-centered woman who will rarely disrupt her plans for others.

When Iris inadvertently uncovers information that leads to her discovery that Ray is her brother, she sets out to gather information on him and meet with him. Ray is insistent that he is innocent and did not kill anyone. Iris decides to investigate his case, hoping it will lead to an appeal.

In the meantime her mother, who never said a thing to Iris about an older brother, is now trying to discourage Iris's involvement with Ray. She insists that Iris does not know Ray and what he is capable of doing. Unable to handle his outbursts, she put him in a home for troubled boys at age nine. Although she apparently used to sneak off and visit Ray for years, she stopped years previously. She resolutely refuses to discuss anything about Ray with Iris.

None of this deters Iris who doggedly continues her investigation into Ray's crime, as well as why her mother would hide his existence from her and apparently from her deceased father.

Ray is having his own struggles as her tries to cope being in the criminal psychiatric unit. He didn't know he had a sister, but Iris continues to visit him and work on his case.

I really enjoyed the alternating points of view as each character shared their stories and their thoughts. I thought Pauw did an excellent job pulling this off while keeping the voices true to the characters. The characters are well developed and believable.

Girl in the Dark is fast-paced and compulsively readable. It kept my rapt attention from beginning to end. I was a girl in the dark about what had really happened until almost the end. I had an "Ah-ha!" moment very close to the end and raced to finish the novel ASAP to see if I was right. Hopefully we'll be reading more of Pauw's work in the future. Wonderful stuck-over-night-at-the-airport book!

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

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