It took me only a few pages to fall in love with this book. Ms MacDughlas’s debut novel was a delightful surprise for me. I did not know what exactly to expect when I started it, as normally I am not someone who read book blurbs and reviews in great detail before venturing into a book of fiction. To me, knowing too much of the storyline beforehand kind of takes away the real joy of going on an adventure and hinders me as a reader from discovering something special on my own.
Despite my lack of prior knowledge when diving into the book, however, from the title Learn to Love Me, I kind of made certain assumptions – perhaps it would be an straight-forward, light-hearted read, perhaps a chick-lit or romance. Soon, I realized that I assumed wrong, and I was happy with that. I’ll tell you why – because in my heart of hearts, chick-lit and romantic novels are not my usual genres of reading, and crime thrillers are, especially good ones.
With masterfully thought-out plot and emotionally charged language, the story follows Emily O’Shea, a part-time journalist for a local paper, as her semi-normal life takes a sharp, dark turn, in a frightening, downhill spiral, forcing her to face a past which she’s fought ferociously to forget.“Do you love me, Emily?” It was spoken in a weary monotone. The receiver clicked again. I didn’t recognize the voice. “Trevor?” Perhaps he was calling from his car phone, but it didn’t sound like Trevor. Another click sounded, like someone tapping a fingernail on the mouthpiece. “Do you love me, Emily?” The voice repeated with exactly the same inflection. It was eerily like the tone you’d expect from a robot, a machine, or an old B-movie zombie. It was unnerving. Feeling weak, my knees gave out and I sank into my chair. My heart was pounding in my ears.
Ms MacDughlas has a great gift for vivid and wonderful characterization, and her expert use of language often had me in tears, leaving me deeply touched by what is happening to the protagonist and what she is put through. Emily O’Shea is a strong character who has won my heart and soul.
The setting in this book is Canada, a country I have never visited, yet the author manages to give a sense of place which I’ve found to be believable. Her descriptions of both people and place are equally vivid and realistic. The plot takes a number of unexpected turns and twists that keeps me guessing. I very much enjoyed the sense of suspense which was expertly built in, an essential part of this type of story-telling.
Having dabbed at crime fiction myself in my most recent attempt, I can easily appreciate and relate to what the author has put into plotting and telling such a heart-wrenching story. It is a rare skill to be able to intrigue and suck in the readers with a mystery, and to keep them interested from beginning to end. Ms MacDughlas has done a brilliant job in delivering a fabulously entertaining and thrilling read, and in the meantime, despite delving into the dark, sinister world of missing girls and gruesome murders, there remains a glimmer of hope, a positive message that good, decent human beings in this world would eventually overcome crazy, twisted, evil people.
The ending is sad, poignant and imperfect, which I think is appropriate and credible – like in real life, not everything will go according to plan nor will everyone enjoy a happy ever-after ending.
It’s one of the best books I’ve read in 2012. It’s a compelling page-turner which I’d recommend it to anyone.
Book Blurb: Despite her secret past, Emily O’Shea was finally living a normal life. There had been some arguments with her husband, Trevor, lately, but no marriage is perfect. At least the column she writes for the local paper is going well…that is, until one of her interviewees goes missing, and a monster from her past resurfaces.
Within a week Emily’s life spins into chaos. Missing girls, a telephone stalker, murder, a monster, and an intense ex-lover; it’s turning out to be one hell of a summer!
Her husband is acting erratically, her boss is threatening to pull her column, and the police suspect she’s the muse for a murderer. Can Emily save her marriage, her job, her life and her sanity? More importantly, are her darkest fears justified? Does Emily already know who the killer is and, if she does; can she do anything to stop them?
Author Bio: Sinead MacDughlas is a Canadian writer whose main addictions are words, music and coffee. A recovered high school drop-out, Sinead has spent much of her adult life moving around the province of Ontario and working at various jobs, including: taxi driver, advertising graphic designer, library clerk, short order cook, industrial cleaner and retail product consultant for a chain of beauty salons. In November of 2011, she finally achieved a lifelong dream of being a published author.