It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a story about a woman, a man and a dog and a psychopath chasing them which wasn’t written by Dean Koontz. Nicholas Sparks has written many, many books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember – but this is his first thriller and I must say it turned out great. He still let the romance bloom and it didn’t take anything away from the story.
Julie Barenson’s young husband left her two unexpected gifts before he died: a Great Dane puppy named Singer and the promise that he would always be watching over her. Now, four years have passed. Still living in the small town of Swansboro, North Carolina, 29-year-old Julie is emotionally ready to make a commitment to someone again.
But to whom? There are two main men on the stage.
Richard Franklin sounds perfect. He’s handsome, a sophisticated engineer who treats her like a queen, takes her on limo rides and gives her gold necklaces on their second date and makes sure she’s always happy and catered for.
There’s also Mike Harris, the down-to-earth nice guy who was her husband’s best friend and best man at their wedding.
Choosing one of them should bring her more happiness than she’s had in years. Instead, Julie is soon fighting for her life in a nightmare spawned by a chilling deception and jealousy so poisonous that it has become a murderous desire.
I was quite happy to see that Julie was pretty level-headed but she did take a long time to see the red flags that Richard was showing. I mean, she took an expensive gift from him on their second date? It’s never a good idea as the guy will definitely have something in mind as a return gift to ask for. Richard also showed up at her house uninvited a couple of times and left notes in her mailbox or on her windshield.
She does catch on eventually that he’s not sane and tries to break it off and Richard shows off a very manipulative side of himself and tries to stay in her life against her wishes. This is like one of the stories you find on Reddit about abusive ex-es or stalkers.
She, of course, gets the police involved and finds out it’s very difficult to build a case against a stalker – and Richard knows how to twist the truth to his advantage and make himself look like the victim.
Mike and Julie get together and find that their common knowledge of her deceased husband, instead of making things awkward, it makes them closer and more soul-bound. The two of them and the dog decide to run away after a coworker of Julie is found beaten at a side of the road and Richard becomes prime suspect.
The book is a thrilling ride up till the end and I was hoping against all odds that there wouldn’t be any deaths, but there are…
Final score: 5/5
The book was pretty awesome and I decided to put together some notes on how to identify a possible abusive boyfriend and get out of the relationship while it’s still young and easy to do.
- He follows you to your work
- He shows up at odd hours
- He checks up on you to see whether you are where you say you are
- Controlling behaviour
- Asking you to wear certain things when you don’t want to
- Jealous of any male friends
- Does not want to hang out with you and your friends (wants you all for himself and to cut you off from possible avenues of support)
- Plays the victim card whenever they want and demand sympathy from other people
- Will gaslight you and try to make you feel unimportant
- Becomes aggressive when told “no” or contradicted
- Presents a different personality to others (two faced)