"Disturbed" by Jennifer Jaynes
The premise of this book read like an episode of Dateline. And I fuckin' love me some Dateline, so I’m not overstating it when I said I was excited to start this one.
Basically, I have the TV viewing habits of a 55+ woman.
“Oh, a wife found bludgeoned to death in her tidy, suburban home? Sign me the fuck up!”
Because of my admitted penchant for this type of story, I was fully invested in enjoying this as much as possible.
To that end, I deliberately avoided even perusing a plot description. I sometimes do this when reading thrillers, hoping that skipping this normal part of the book selection process will make the plot more surprising and the experience, overall, more satisfying.
So I entered the book, blind, wondering:
Would the story be ripped from the headlines (Oh wait, that's Law & Order, not Dateline)
Would they figure out who done it?
Would it be the husband? (Because it's always the fucking husband)
Well, I figured out pretty quick that it wouldn’t be the husband, as there wasn’t one in this book (so, if I were tasked with solving this crime, they would all be screwed. My detective work skills begin and end with “It’s probably the husband.”)
The book focused not on a married woman, but instead on a young, beautiful, college co-ed (who, let’s face it, is also popular Dateline fodder).
The book-opening prologue details the discovery of a rather horrific crime scene. Alerted of a potential problem by a neighbor who heard screaming, police enter the apartment on the morning of November 1st to find two college co-eds brutally stabbed to death and a third who, despite receiving the same vicious treatment, clings to life in the bathtub.
Then the plot fast forwards…
Five years in the future, Chelsea, the one survivor of this massacre, is still struggling with both the mental and the physical scars of this attack. Building anything close to a “normal” life is complicated by the fact that the prime suspect in the crime hasn’t been spotted since the night of the slaying.
As October arrives and the anniversary of the crime approaches, Chelsea begins receiving menacing messages that seem to suggest that the killer wants to finish what he started.
By her side is her best (and basically, only) friend, Elizabeth, a nurse and friend of five years who helped Chelsea recover from the trauma of that night. As the plot progresses and the threats continue, Chelsea struggles to handle the resurrection of the fear she thought she had escaped while retaining the tenuous grasp she has on her sanity.
So, the thing with this book is, it had a lot of promise.
The premise served as a really strong foundation.
From the start, I was naturally invested in the characters and perplexed as to how it would all play out.
Did it realize this potential?
Yeah, not so much.
When compared to other thrillers, this one was pretty much middle of the road.
While the plot did keep my interest – and I didn’t fully figure it all out until pretty close to the end – but it lacked the continuity to feel real.
For example, we are to believe that Chelsea is a scarred, but obviously strong, woman who somehow managed to handle the emotional turmoil that would naturally follow such a hideously life-changing event. Then, enter a love interest, and she’s a gah-gah teenager, melting into a pool of love and upending her life for this guy.
Also, she consciously made the decision not to drink, as she blames alcohol consumption, at least in part, for the patchiness of her memory on the night in question. But all it takes is this new Mr. Right-Now to offer her a glass of wine and suddenly she’s a wine-before-noon kinda gal?
And let me pause and say, I have no problem with wine-before-noon kinda gals. I kinda am a wine-before-noon kinda gal. But I’ve always been that way. I didn’t just suddenly develop an intense thirst for alcohol following a tryst. #JustSayin
It just doesn’t make sense.
I mean, she could easily say, “Listen, last time I drank I got cut the fuck up and I’d really like not to repeat that.”
And why doesn’t she?
‘Cause she’s so nervous about this date.
I’m sure a lot of stuff has happened to her since her near-death experience that was much more difficult to handle than a case of the butterflies, but this is the event… this date is the thing… that makes her pick up a bottle?
There is one other point that I really need to note.
Readers of this book were promised a twist.
I love a twist almost as much as I love both wine before noon and Dateline, so I was pretty amped and anxious to see if I would be shocked by this plot turn.
Unfortunately, while there was a twist, I felt like it was largely spoiled for me.
Both the title and the cover of this book were, essentially, spoilers.
Ultimately, our protagonist ends up being even more messed up in the head than we previously assumed.
I pretty much deduced this from the title and the cover long before it was revealed in the book.
So, when this fact ended up playing a critical role in the “twist” I was nowhere near as taken aback as I would have liked to have been.
Despite these concerns, the overall strength of the plot did redeem this book.
I would recommend this novel to thriller fans who want an easy, fast read.
If you’re looking for depth, however, you won’t find it here.
3 out of 5 cocktails.
This is my third fall-themed thriller and/or horror book in a row. Do your reading habits change seasonally? Tell me about it in the comments, below.
I’ve got another thriller on deck. Want to see what it is? Stalk me, here.