Review: Clean Break by David Klein

Clean Break by David Klein
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher:  Broadway
Pages: 384
Source:  Publisher

A riveting tale of psychological suspense about a woman who finds herself in an impossible situation

Lured by the hope of a better life for herself and her son, Celeste Vanek must deal with the emotional and physical resistance of her compulsive gambler husband when she asks for a divorce. Though she hopes she is on the verge of making a clean break, her husband demands his family back, and things get violent. Jake Atwood, who witnesses the shocking scene between Celeste and her husband, struggles with his own emotional and ethical issues while attempting to help Celeste escape her marriage. At the same time, Jake is involved with Sara, a married and childless police detective who has a private agenda to pursue when a crime is committed that links all of these characters together and changes their lives forever. With heart-pounding suspense and brilliant psychological insight, CLEAN BREAK will leave readers breathless.



Review: Clean Break by David Klein is a novel about relationships. That means it’s something like a romance novel, right? Well, maybe and maybe not. There is a budding romance at the center of the story, but there are break ups too. More than one.

When Celeste and Jacob start tentatively ‘almost dating’, they both have enough baggage between them to fill an SUV. She’s just come out of her marriage to Adam, a former college sports star whose addiction to gambling wrecked their marriage, which had been happy for the first ten years. Jacob has just come out of an affair with Sara, a tough lady who works in law enforcement. She showed Jacob the door when she realized that their affair was just as much about him getting a lucrative contract for his company as it was about attraction, love and affection. This was the man she’d risked her marriage for as well as her career. She opened her eyes and realized that the risks just weren’t worth it.

Both ladies are trying here for a clean break to two destructive relationships. However, in the course of the story, it becomes obvious that we carry within us lasting memories of the relationships we experience and however much we may yearn for them, clean breaks are not always possible.

A sensitive and skilful writer, Klein writes objectively, without cloying sentimentality. It is easy to feel for the lost soul that Adam Vanek has become, returning from the rehabilitation clinic to find that his wife and son just won’t be there for him to support him as he tries to make it through. But at the same time, it’s not difficult to sympathize with Celeste, his wife, who has had her fill of heartbreak, broken promises, simmering tension and the threat of violence. All she wants now is a peaceful divorce and a reasonably amicable relationship with her former husband, as they continue to parent their child. Although Celeste has had enough of her marriage, the need for love and companionship doesn’t go away and she finds herself attracted to Jacob. And Jacob, who rather cynically used Sara, is not a bad man really. He’s just a man who never found the right woman to settle down with.

Although the subject matter of this novel is rather grim, it’s far from a grim read. The writer’s easy style draws us in and we find ourselves caring for the characters as the story unfolds. The climax which comes about four fifths through the story brings an unexpected twist which makes the ending far from predictable.

Overall, I’d say that this is an immensely readable novel and a commendable piece of work. I’d have no hesitation to recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading novels about life and relationships. And suspense.

Favorite Quote:  He never remained in once city long enough to establish roots or permanent friendships and he lamented the lack of any foundation in his life. Here he was pushing forty and still flying solo. Jake had expected to be married by now with a family of his own, a partner to love, children to raise. Wasn’t that every orphan’s dream?

“I discovered something very important”, Adam said. “No matter what your wife says, no matter how mad she is or how much she insults you or goads you on – don’t touch her. Don’t raise a hand,” Adam said. “I have to apologize for that”.