Guys, I have a dilemma with this book. This is the second Lehane novel I’ve read, my first being Shutter Island. Practically everyone seems to like Lehane, but this book…. it’s not the top of his work. It’s barely cohesive and never when it counts.
Fundamentally, there are two stories to this novel, both circling around Rachel Childs. Rachel had a horrible upbringing with a mother who held something over her head with the claim of trying to protect her. What was she holding over her? Her father’s name. That’s because he abandoned her when she was three, far too young to remember much of him. And that’s the first story. Her search for her father. Along with this story is her burgeoning agoraphobia, something I’ll discuss more.
The second story technically starts at the beginning of the book, but you don’t pick it up until later. Her marriage and how it unravels quickly. And then, after it unravels, how it just gets even worse. I can’t discuss much more without spoilers.
What I can say is that those two stories don’t come together. They would have been better as separate stories in different books, not in one. I liked the stories, though. They were both very well written and well handled, but they should have been separate or severely cut down. Both of the stories are compelling, but they don’t add up or link together, especially into the second story that I consider the main one.
Now, I’m going to discuss Rachel’s agoraphobia. It could get spoiler-y, so I apologize.
Throughout the first story, Rachel develops severe agoraphobia that carries into the second one. One of the various threads in the second story is her husband trying to help her work through it. Then, that whole thing implodes and it ends up with Rachel having to go through it on her own. All of a sudden, she’s going out of the house and driving and traveling long distances on her own. It simply felt like Rachel suddenly was fine and got over things very quickly with the degree of impairment she had. I’m no expert on agoraphobia, but I know enough to realize it all happened very suddenly.
So, this was a good book that I did like, but simply didn’t cohesively work. There are other, better, Lehane novels out there. It just didn’t feel like he was on top of his game, despite the good writing.