Friday, June 17, 2022

Philip Wilson - The Librarian

A shy librarian accidentally stumbles on a conspiracy by a group of rogue cops. Assaulted, framed and sent to prison to ensure her silence, Sarah discovers a fierce will to live and a startling capacity for violence that enables her to survive the harsh prison environment. On her release, Sarah learns her father died alone and her old life is gone forever. Heartbroken and enraged, Sarah devises a chilling revenge for the men who destroyed her world. As she prepares, she meets Paul Taylor, an ex US navy seal, who teaches her the skills she needs; but also shows her love and the promise of a new life. As Sarah begins her hunt, the cops’ disbelief turns to terror as they realize they are being stalked and killed by a librarian.

Comment: I no longer remember when this book got on my radar or my friend H.'s. Still, it was the agreed read for our buddy read this month and I was especially curious because it's not a type of book we gravitate to in our choices. But since the heroine was a librarian, we still went for it.

In this book we meet shy librarian Sarah Andrews as she is returning on the late train from visiting her ailing father at his elderly home. There is only one other male passenger (Paul) until a group of young guys enters and starts messing with her. The other man helps Sarah and they talk until her exit, something she surprises herself with, considering he seems so much more confident. However, Sarah's life soon takes quite a turn when she is framed for a crime she didn't commit by some corrupt cops, simply because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She can't believe when she is charged and sent to prison but this will certainly change her look on life and what she is losing will make her want revenge...

I'm certain that it isn't the case, but it does feel as if the plot of this contemporary story is the most unlikely ever to be plausible, much less accomplished or legal in reality. Despite that, and the several out of character situations portrayed, I was still captivated and eager to know what would happen next, as if this was one of those movies where we follow the hero through a road of revenge by getting the upper hand on those who caused him harm. In this case, we see Sarah going that road.

Sarah is a shy librarian, we soon understand she hasn't had anything special nor mysterious happening to her. She is a plain Jane but devoted to her parents, now her father since her mother's death, and she works in a job she didn't want but that now is something she is good at and makes her feel good. Basically, she is a good citizen, not breaking laws, and she even has the help of a man, whom we know has military experience in his past, helping her  one night, on the train. I figured this would be a very cozy type of story, I didn't even pay attention to the blurb, so when Sarah sees herself in the middle of a corrupt deal gone wrong, she is easily framed by cops and the lawyer they hire to condemn her.

From this on - even though this framing situation alone is rather difficult to manage so quickly - Sarah has to face a new reality, has to go prison but before that she connects all the dots and realizes what is happening is not a matter of the cops not believing her, but they actively wanted to use her and she can't forget how they harmed and humiliated her on purpose. She goes to prison and her stay there felt like a mix of comedy and revenge, for she manages to overcome all challenges and possible problems, such as a new person in prison wouldn't be able to. The situations are so exaggerated they border on fantasy but at the same time, and this is what I think to be the author's strongest element, I still wanted her to survive and leave and go on pursue of those who put her there.

When she does leave prison, she goes on her revenge plan, not without some personal losses, but mostly with the help of Paul, whose number she still remembered. Conveniently, he has the money to help her although while on her revenge path, she does have to face some setbacks. While this isn't as dire as one would think, I'm actually glad because it means the biggest changes on Sarah are mental, as she understood the psychology of what happened to her and is processing in a radical manner. I confess this part of the story was the most unlikely one, how could Sarah, with no background on violence and despite trauma happening, could still change so quickly.

I would say the writing style is very easy and direct, making the read a quick experience, and things happen without much confusion. For instance, we don't have that many pages with Sarah on prison, only enough for us to get an idea of how it affected her and why it mattered for the plot. However, this tactic also makes for a very mercurial read, almost as if the characters had no real personality nor time to develop ideas or for us to connect with them emotionally. I certainly expected more in this regard, there's even a slight romance content, but if I think instead that the author's goal was to write a story which could be readily turned into an action movie...

It might sound as if I only say negative things about it, but this was a fast paced story I actually enjoyed reading. Like I said, it borders on fantasy in some moments, but it's amazing escapism, it's one of those plots where you really want the "good guys", sort of, to win and turn things around for the villains. I can't say if I'd re-read the whole thing, but I certainly won't forget some elements.
Grade: 8/10

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