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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fiend by Karen Lewis

Fiend by Karen Lewis
Publisher: Hearts on Fire Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (173 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Something had woken nine-year-old Lily Foyle…a thumping noise and a scream…there it was again, coming from the barn. She grasped her teddy bear for comfort and crept outside. Stars blazed in a black cavern of a sky. Her bare feet moved silently across grass wet with dew. She held her nose as she passed the pigpen, the stench was awful, she’d never got used to it. The pigs squelched in mud and grunted.

The screams were getting louder now, shrill and full of terror. Lily was afraid; she knew something terrible was happening. Should she go back to the house? There was a sudden high-pitched squeal, like a pig makes at the slaughter. Curiosity won out. She crouched down by the broken slat in the barn door and peered in. There are some sights so horrible…so shocking…the human mind can’t take them in. She was found the next day huddled in the woods unable to speak.

In Fiend, Karen Lewis has written a crime thriller of high suspense and compelling excitement. Lily is the key to it all. As a nine year old, she witnessed a crime so horrific her emotions couldn’t cope and the shock left her shorn of any memory of the event. The crime itself seemed straightforward to authorities, and Lily’s uncle was convicted of multiple homicides. But now, fifteen years later, an anonymous letter reopens the case and fresh murders occur. Neil Slater is the Vancouver Police Lieutenant assigned to sort it all out.

This is a fast moving story with prose so energetic it leaps off the page. The lightning pace is driven by some of the liveliest dialogue you’ll find anywhere. This author cleverly uses dialogue to start up and leap across chapter sub-sections, making the plot flow all the more compelling. Don’t begin this one unless you have time because you won’t want to put it down once you start.

Characterizations are excellent and they are excellent for both genders. Lewis skillfully uses a good cop/bad cop partnership to activate characters on an almost instantaneous basis, making them all the more distinct and vivid. Again, it is the vigorous dialogue that brings them to life.

This book is primarily a crime thriller with romance as an afterthought. The romance itself shows us intriguing possibilities early on, more so for being a triangle. But one of the story’s minor weaknesses is that the love story ultimately fails to satisfy.

Then there’s the story’s mystery. This is both a strength and a weakness. A strength because it is well constructed, and few readers will guess the true villain’s identity. A weakness because once revealed, the villain’s motivations don’t quite add for the time frame involved. They strain credibility a bit far.

But on balance, Fiend is a superb read. It’s mystery will keep you guessing; it’s story flow will keep you enthralled.