May 24, 2013

May Genreflecting: Review: The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin

Genreflecting wordle

The Killer's Cousin coverAfter seventeen-year-old David is forced to stand trial for his girlfriend's death, he is sent to live with his aunt and uncle and their young daughter, Lily, to avoid the media frenzy. But all is not well at his relatives' house. His aunt and uncle are not speaking to each other, and Lily seems dead set on making David's life a torment. And then there's the issue of their older daughter, Kathy, who died under mysterious circumstances a number of years back. As things with his family grow more and more tense, David starts to wonder: Is he the only one who's hiding something?
From Goodreads

I had read another book by Nancy Werlin & really enjoyed it. The Killer's Cousin though is a whole different animal than Impossible. This suspense novel leaves you just enough in the dark about what's taken place prior to the beginning of the book that you're just a bit confused. You know that something terrible has taken place & that the main character David is escaping persecution based on a murder charge, but you don't get the whole story until the end of the book. As you watch David interacting with his estranged family & the students at his new school, you begin to understand just how isolated and different he really is from everyone else.

All is not well in his aunt & uncle's home as evidenced by their silent treatment of one another and the strained familial bonds are taxed even further when the subject turns to their surviving daughter, 11 year old Lily. She seems a bit peculiar at first, but quickly becoming menacing. Before you know it, the book seems to turn into a horror film where the parents are oblivious to the destruction going on around them. As David sorts through his emotions & experiences over the last year, he's also trying to figure out what's really going on in this family and why he gets the feeling that it has something to do with the way his older cousin Kathy died.

Despite its age, this is a pretty good suspense novel. There are definitely some things that cause it to be dated (VHS tapes, the novelty of "the Net", the X-Files as a popular tv show) if you skip past that background noise and focus on the main story, it's really quite timeless. We spend a great deal of time with David and his thoughts which gives us a very specific vantage point to view the series of events he sees unfolding. I really enjoyed watching him piece things together while still struggling with his identity and self-esteem.

This book definitely followed the pattern of a suspense novel in that we spend the entire novel dreading the discovery of the truth of some past event. While normally we're dreading/anticipating a future event, I think this reversed system worked well considering that there were two mysterious events to be reconciled. The anticipation of David's discoveries is palpable throughout the novel giving you the sense of foreboding and edginess.

Next week I'll be reviewing All Unquiet Things and hosting a giveaway so be sure to check back in next Friday!

No comments: