There has been buzz about Chevy Stevens ever since her debut novel, "Still Missing" was first published. Deemed a taught and mental thriller, all the reviews I ever read said it was near impossible to put down. Shame on me for allowing not one but TWO copies sit on my shelves unread.
I was pretty happy when Stevens' second novel, "Never Knowing", was selected for Heathrow Literary Society's January read. The member who nominated the book said she read both books in two days. A very high recommendation indeed! Around the holidays, with all the chaos, this is just what I needed.
Synopsis: Sara Gallagher has always been curious about her birth parents. With two siblings born naturally to her parents after her adoption, she has always felt left out, less loved. As an adult, however, she has a daughter of her own, and is engaged to be married in just a few months to a man who deeply loves her. Life is good.
To get some closure before starting her new life, Sara decides to hire an investigator to find her birth mother. When the research uncovers the fact that not only was her mother the sole survivor of a serial murderer, but that Sara was a product of rape from that incident, all hell breaks loose. The serial murderer "John" is still out there, and soon learns he has a daughter. He contacts Sara and tries to form a relationship with her. This could be an opportunity for the police to finally catch the most wanted man in Canadian history, but things are a bit more complicated for Sara.
She is worried she might have inherited her father's temper. But she is strangely drawn to him. But he is dangerous. And he could hurt her loved ones. And what about that handsome police officer to whom she has grown close throughout the investigation? Will her happy, normal life ever again be within her reach?
My thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a decent thriller. While there was some action, it was more heavily focused on the complicated, mental underpinnings of being stalked by a paternal serial murderer. I suspect our book club will enjoy untangling all of the rat's nest of emotions addressed here...fear, betrayal, horror, fascination, morbid curiosity, forbidden sexual attraction, the power of maternal instinct, courage...it's all in there.
On the other hand, there were aspects of this story that drove me mad. A great deal of time was spent immersed in the protagonist's inability to make a damned decision. Will she help the police catch her father and defy her fiancé and family, or turn her back on her social responsibility? She waffled at least four times. In reality, yeah, I can understand this confusion. But for purposes of plot, it did not inspire my investment in Sara, and grew old fast. Two waffles would have been enough.
I also thought there were some missed opportunities in the lack of development of the relationship between Sara and her birth mother. It was a very large, loose thread. In fact, there were loose threads everywhere you turned, the focus primarily resting on the father/daughter interaction. What about her adoptive parents, her father's anger and her mother's illness, her dead ex-husband. I'm sure this was by design, but it left me wanting.
A word about the audio production: Nine out of ten times, an audio can make a good book better, but not in this case. The narrator, Carrington MacDuffie, was not a new voice for me. I'd listened to her in "The Little Giant of Aberdeen County" and thought she did a wonderful job. In this case, however, her depiction of Sara did not help matters. Her inflections were forced and insincere (the only comparison I can make is to Shirley Temple, which is cute in a little girl in the 1930's who dances and sings, but doesn't work in this case). About two discs into the audiobook, I began the terrible process of trying to separate the words and plot from what I was hearing in my ears.
3 out of 5 stars