This is not a story about a murder, but a dark journey inside a writer’s mind. Commitment-shy Ellis Crawford, creator of the famous and highly successful Jenna Crane mystery series, finds his comfortable life swept away when he meets Emily, his perfect woman.
Despite his deepening love for Emily, Ellis finds himself haunted by painful memories of a previous love whose heart he broke, and begins to regret his past behavior. On top of that, Emily wants him to kill off his beloved heroine Jenna Crane – against fierce public opinion.
But life is too short for regrets and when his own rapidly spirals out of control, taking his reputation as an author with it, where will Ellis turn for help?
Review: I am SO glad that I was assigned this book. I was not familiar with Lynette Sofras and had not had time to look into the premise of the book before I started it. If you are looking for a murder to solve, keep going. This book is not that sort of thriller. While it most certainly does fit into the Romantic Suspense genre, it also fits into the psychological thriller category.
Ellis is the author of the wildly popular Jenna Crane series. His books have been made into movies and whatever else he could squeeze out of the name. He is riding high on success and Jenna has provided him with a very comfortable lifestyle. Two things happen in life right at the same time that begins a rapid spiral for Ellis in the opposite direction of where he is at the moment.
The first thing is he has decided he wants to kill Jenna Crane. He’s bored out of his skull writing this formulaic series and longs to write something more substantial. The second thing is his meeting a new neighbor, Emily. But, first a little back story- Emily has moved into the home once occupied by Ellis’ former girlfriend, Chloe. Chloe is a beautiful woman and Ellis recognizes in her a certain special something ,but he is not the relationship type, not the love with all your heart type, and not the meet my family type, well, you get the idea. But, before he knows it he and Chloe have practically moved in together. What’s so terrible about that? Well, it’s clear Chloe wants more commitment and Ellis ain’t budging. So, eventually they drift apart. No sooner has Chloe moved away, another beautiful woman moves in and Ellis finds himself smitten once again. But, the situation with Chloe left him feeling a great deal of guilt. It then comes to his attention that Chloe could be exacting a little bit of revenge on him from a distance, plus, the more time he spends with Emily, the more burned out he begins to feel about Jenna Crane.
The reader watches the egomaniac author with the world as his feet, systematically bring about his own demise. He begins blowing off his work, argues more and more with his concerned publisher, and agent, and has become obsessed with his new neighbor , Emily. Emily is the opposite of Chloe and instead of having the woman do all the work in the relationship, Ellis finds himself chasing after Emily with reckless abandon. I do mean reckless. He fails to attend functions, make deadlines, and is seen out in public behaving erratically.
The twist and turns the story takes had me flipping pages as fast as I could, all while forgetting to breathe. The suspense is palpable as Ellis begins to suspect Chloe and her family are plotting to take him down, and Emily’s sudden appearance in his life also appears suspect.
Told from Ellis’ point of view, the reader gets an up close and personal view to the inner workings of his mind. You may not find him all that likeable. He takes women for granted and never allows himself to feel all that deeply for anyone, except maybe himself. When it looks like his new girlfriend is giving him a taste of his own medicine, one can’t help but think of it as poetic justice. But, what game is Emily really playing? Is Chloe or her uncle behind the sudden public revelations that have Ellis wishing he could crawl under a rock and die?
The story is very atmospheric, troubling, and is told in stunning candor. The novelist occasionally takes out his frustrations by putting Jenna through harrowing life or death situations, and occasionally she is injured. The inner workings of the artist mind is also a theme touched on as we wonder about Ellis’ sanity because of how much time he spends in an alternate reality with Jenna, whom he has hilarious conversations with.
What is on the surface, and one is always free to take a story at face value if they chose, is enough to keep the reader guessing on all fronts. But, scratch beneath the surface and you will see something much deeper and meaningful is a work here. This is not the romantic suspense type book where the characters have erotic thoughts about each others bodies and have hot monkey sex and a happy ever after. This is really more like a love story, a real love story that involves emotions and feelings that run much deeper than connecting physically. I felt like I had take a harrowing journey with Ellis and his self analysis is honest and true. He begins to pick at a scab and it opens up a self realization that will set him on a path different from the one he was on, but a much more rewarding one. This is such a great story and much more than just a thriller. There are jabs at the publishing industry that will make you chuckle, and a few self deprecating remarks about authors and their escape from reality and their egos, that makes me the think the author might have known a few people like Ellis.
The book has a dream like quality at times, a gloomy atmosphere at times, a satirical edge, and deeply moving story of love and friendship. Ellis has an experience one might think of as having a paranormal quality to it and I’m not going to tell you how to interpret the book, but I don’t really think that was case. The mind is so very complex and Ellis was much more sensitive than he would appear on the surface. He is in pain and has never dealt with it and the current events in his life threaten to bring all that pain to the surface. His mind chooses a way to cope with that. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
All in all I can’t recommend this book highly enough. A stellar job, certainly outside the norm, and has a little something for everyone. I think this would also make a great book club read.