Friday, February 12, 2016

Jana DeLeon - Malevolent

Everyone wondered about Shaye Archer’s past. Including Shaye.
Shaye Archer’s life effectively began the night police found her in an alley, beaten and abused and with no memory of the previous fifteen years, not even her name. Nine years later, she’s a licensed private investigator, with a single goal—to get answers for her clients when there aren’t supposed to be any.
And maybe someday, answers for herself.
Emma Frederick thought her nightmare was over when she killed her abusive husband, but someone is stalking her and tormenting her with mementos from her past. With no evidence to support her claims, the police dismiss her claims as post-traumatic stress, but Shaye is convinced that someone is deliberately terrorizing Emma…playing a cat and mouse game with only one goal in mind.
To kill Emma.

Comment: This is the book chosen for this month's pick in the book club I'm more active at the moment. It wasn't my suggestion but like I said before, I try to read the books chosen as much as I can, that's the goal after all. I was a bit doubtful, because I had read something by the author before and wasn't up to my tastes, but I trusted this title wouldn't be like the one I've read and gave it a go.

This is the story of Shaye Archer, a PI just starting her business. She is contacted by Emma Frederick, a woman who thinks she's being stalked by her ex-husband. The problem is she killed her ex when he tried to attack her in the past. But she saw him and it's someone that looks just like he did and now she's getting little things that prove someone knows her very well and her husband too.
Shaye is a recent professional, just out of internship with another PI agency and she also hides a dark past. She was found at 15 with countless marks of abuse but with the help of her foster mother, she grew up to be comfortable, independent, smart, dedicated...and now she wants to help others in a way she was helped too, but in her own way.
Shaye tries to help Emma and it seems she can manage that but then the killer turns his eye on her too...

I was quite surprised by how the author can give this story the right amount of serious tone, something that really doesn't exist in the other book I've read, which I get it's supposed to be comical, but only felt silly to me. This proves the author does structure and does serious tones well.
I still get the feeling this could have been slightly darker with some scene contention... but it turned out to be good enough like this. It has the thriller parts that add suspense and it has more quitter moments to balance and let us rest too.

The story focus on the two women, so we basically follow Emma and Shaye in their different daily steps. There are other important characters and we do have the POV of more people other than Shaye and Emma, which, in a way, is actually good, because we get to experience different takes on things and that shifts the balance and makes it easier to keep reading because we aren't always focused on the bad things or the more darker scenes.
Of course some people might say it's too much and the thriller part looses steam over this. I noticed it here and there, where I thought a more dramatic telling would have increased the story's feel which would suit, but it didn't happen, so... I have mixed feelings about it, but overall I appreciated the multiple POVs.

The intensity of the story probably is one of the things that could have been worked out better. Not that it doesn't give us suspense because it does, but in some moments it feels like we can detach ourselves from the story easily and it seems something is missing. Still, I can't say it's a bad story but it had room for improvement.

The characters are intriguing. Of course Shaye is the most fascinating one due to the way she was found and how she can't remember her past or what happened to her. She has nightmares but she can't remember who hurt her and why... I foresee a gradual increase in her personality development, I can bet she will learn a bit more in every book and that will bring her closer to the truth. She is a strong person, she has some flaws and the mindset of someone who obviously was hurt and is wary but still maintaining a certain intransigency about certain issues that I'm looking for to see developed in further plots.

Emma is interesting too but from the way the story ended, despite understanding why, I still feel she could have turned out to be more important in the big scheme of things, especially in developing a friendship with Shaye, for instance. As for the thriller part, I think she played her part well.
Shaye's family matters too, not only her mother but those she considers family by proximity. This added an interesting support to the structure of the plot because it gave us the idea Shaye isn't just a lone wolf, she has issues but also people to help her.
There are other character, the villain is quite the surprise I thought I had him at some point but in the end I was completely surprised by his identity!
There's also a suggestion of a love interest for Shaye, which I hope will happen because it will be another layer to develop in her character.

The plot is clever but at some points it seems to lack steam or polish enough. I can't tell if it's because it's a first book or just the writing style, but it's there even if doesn't take anything out of the concept. I still think it was an interesting study of what a human person can do and say if "brainwashed" enough. It can be scary how easily affected people can be in the wrong environments.

All in all, this was a good story. I feel very curious about the next one and will try to get it soon to read. As for this one, a nice surprise and a good read for me.
Grade: 8/10

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