Review: To the Grave by Carlene Thompson

To the Grave by Carlene Thompson
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Pages: 432
Source:  Publisher

As a psychologist, Catherine Gray understands the power of first love. As a woman, she still has feelings for her first crush, James—a handsome lawyer who was trapped in a bad marriage for years. Now that Catherine has returned to Aurora Falls, and James is divorced, they can finally build a life together. But then she stumbles onto his first love—his ex-wife Renée, missing for the past three years—murdered…

Catherine is stunned. How well does she really know James? What secret destroyed his marriage—and who killed his wife? When a mysterious fire destroys the crime scene, Catherine starts looking for answers. In a portrait for a masked woman, she sees Renée’s eyes looking back at her hauntingly. And when the next victim is revealed, it becomes terrifyingly clear that an obsessed killer is on the loose—and Catherine is next in line…


Review: My biggest pet peeves in fiction writing are stilted speech, inane dialogue that just wouldn’t happen between two people, descriptions of the obvious, and errors in the time line. Unfortunately, this book is full of all of these things. For instance, when Catherine falls into an old cistern, becomes tangled in the hair of a dead body and keeps getting dragged under the water, her sister yells to her, “Let loose the body” and “Just rip out the hair with all your might”. “With all your might”? Lines like this are doubly disappointing as the author has a Ph.D. in English and this is her fifteenth book.

Catherine is a 29-year-old psychologist but comes off a bit immature at times. In real life, I can understand crying because your boyfriend doesn’t call when you think he should but Catherine is the heroine of a novel. Heroines are, by definition, brave and strong yet Catherine came off a bit sniveling and whiney, more like an insecure sixteen year old than a professional psychologist.

James seemed almost a minor character. We never get his thoughts or see what he is doing when he’s alone. He is stand-offish and almost secretive. Quite honestly, I couldn’t see what attracted Catherine to him. James and Catherine are already together when the book begins but there is no flashback or recounting of how they ended up together. I think relating this would have made a difference in how their relationship was perceived.

All in all, To the Grave was a bit of a disappointment. The plot itself is good but between discrepancies in the storyline, what I would term “uncomfortable” dialogue, and weak characters, reading was difficult. However, I stayed with the book and found that if I looked past these pet peeves of mine, the story was an enjoyable thriller that kept me guessing until the end.