“Oh, I don’t want to talk about Saskia the whole time.”
Novak’s teeth are flat at the front, four of them in a row. “She’s kind of the main event.”
We meet Angela at the start of the novel in an interrogation room. HP’s (an ex-boyfriend from her youth) wife is missing, and we wait to find out just what she might know, or be hiding about this ‘main event.’ Angela’s parents ‘moved a lot’, when she was growing up and a childhood spent on unsteady ground, never knowing when she would be yanked up by her roots and planted elsewhere, forced to start all over again was not, she assures us, such an adventure in your teens where loyalties, cliques and relationships already seem cemented, no room for outsiders. Her tenth grade year they move to the town of Cove, Vermont and that is where the story of her first love begins. She is met by the ugly cruelty of pretty girls, until HP steps in. This is where the popular, beloved, golden boy entered her life and the stage is set for eleven years into the future, where a crime has occurred.
But first we are led into the past, a tale of friendship and love. We listen as the intimate tale of her friendship with HP unfolds. The two are moving towards something intense, deep, and strong. Angela’s parents expect nothing but the best from their daughter, an educated life and her ticket out of the small New England town will take her far away to Oxford University in England and threatens distance between she and HP. There is no choice, you don’t pass up Oxford. They demand she goes, it’s a chance of a lifetime, she may not know she wants this golden opportunity but they know she will regret it with her every breath if she doesn’t take it! He will visit her, he will wait, everything will be beautiful but another woman enters the scene and everything goes awry. Angela is rooted to the past, her love is a black winged creature, and Saskia is a cage. She cannot let go of the past, and she knows HP feels the same, she knows that the only obstacle is Saskia.
Flashbacks between her high school days getting up to trouble and love with HP and friends clash with her university years and now the present. Where does HP fit in the puzzle of her adult life? In this room, the detective reveals poisonous little tidbits, facts he has unearthed, overturning rocks in her life beneath which dark pale bellied creatures live. Then there is Freddy, a soft shoulder, a dear friend to help lift her out of the gaps of time when HP is being pulled away in the rip tide of Saskia. He is her anchor, he longs to heal her, fix her and Angela is blind to the possibilities because all she can see, feel and taste is her first love. Fate could never divide two people who are meant to be, nor could new people, be they lovers or children. Right? If it’s destined, no man can divide such affection, nor can time. What is the passing of years compared to the measure of such love?
I felt passing moments of likability and pity for Angela but more often than not she is selfish or confusing. Is she shy and weak, or an outcast smoldering with rage? Is she an ungrateful child or suffocated by the whims and big dreams her parents have for her? I wish her personality had a little more time to come to a boil, as I wasn’t really sure how to take her. She’s bitter as an adult, greedy to meet her own needs, blind but where is her intelligence? This is a woman who went to Oxford! I get it, she is consumed by love (obsession) but something is amiss. That aside, I was engaged. The ending was good, well… well then. So that’s how it ends!
Chapter after chapter of the story creeps closer to what happened to Saskia. Dark is the heart of obsessive love, but did Angela come unhinged? Could she really have blood on her hands? Could she have killed for love? Just what would Angela do for her soul mate, what wouldn’t she do? Is she misunderstood, are they way off? Is Saskia just pulling some silly stunt for attention? You have to read to find out.
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
St. Martin’s Press