Caroline Hughes is a young Georgetown wife, married to Dr. Porter Moross, a world-renowned psychoanalyst. One afternoon, Caroline takes her small white Yorkshire terrier, and leaves. She boards a Greyhound bus and leaves for parts unknown, ending up in a small Colorado town. In two short weeks, she begins to fit right in with the sweet small town, even falling a little bit in love with a former Kansas City Chiefs NFL player. Yet all is not well. Her psychotically controlling, abusive husband hunts her down. He attempts to kill both Caroline and her paramour, and ends up killing himself. Caroline and the football player end up together.
That’s the basic outline. The book does provide suspense. It is a pretty standard woman-in-jeopardy storyline, but it is told in a pacey way, with enough complexity to make the outcome both obvious (the woman will win) while withholding enough information so you’re not sure how it resolve. I did not once skim or skip ahead. I really did absorb every word.
There were some problems, however. The first is, the crazy abusive husband had these weird unspecified mommy issues. Like, he called for his mommy without explaining what that was about. Also he had a kind of random way of being a barbarian to his wife. He would beat her with a riding crop while making her recite childhood sexual abuse at her step-father’s hand. I felt like if you’re going to use such serious issues, they deserved a little more depth. But they were mentioned in passing, as if they meant nothing.
On a purely technical level there were several issues. The author mentioned a “Porsche 988.” There is no such car. It would have been easy to Google and find a real car to use. This sort of tiny issue explains why research is so critical.
Carroll also uses the same phrases several times, very close together. Example: on page 179, she writes that autumn was the “harbinger of the season of death.” On page 184, she says the same thing. She also does this with “demons running wild” and several other phrases. It was obvious enough that it kept snagging me out of the fictional dream. Also, there were a few capitalization errors, and comma errors. These were minor, however, compared to the fact that not just one, but two storylines were simply abandoned unresolved. And lastly, Dr. Moross was always referred to as a “psychoanalyst” – the term “psychiatry” or “psychiatrist” never appeared in the book, a fact I found strange.
The last comment was a personal taste issue. The “romance” between Caroline and her paramour, Ken Kincaid, involves exactly two modest kisses and a lot of blushing. I found that sort of avoidance of any kind of serious romance a little disappointing. I didn’t expect wild sex or anything – but I find it difficult to believe Caroline would have endured horrific abuse, moved across the country, then allowed herself to believe she was in love after eight days. I wanted a little more romance and little less crazy husband.
Altogether, despite the problems, I found it a quick, enjoyable, suspenseful read. Perfect for a plane trip or a rainy weekend.