When Broadway star Alice Josephs thinks she sees her twin sister in the audience during one of her performances, she begins to question her sanity. Lessa disappeared twenty years ago in the woods near their Hudson River Valley home, and the crime was never solved. As handsome, Emmy Award-winning crime writer Nial Reynolds investigates the cold case, Alice becomes the target of a sadistic stalker obsessed with her beauty and fame. She begins to receive threatening letters, and odd items from her childhood resurface in her Tarrytown home. Her stalker seems to know things about her past that no one should know, including the fact that whenever young Alice spoke Lessa’s name after the tragedy, her mother would scold, “Don’t say her name, Alice.” As Nial digs deeper into the Josephs' past, the spotlight makes her stalker bold. Could a dark family secret be tied to the present, and is Alice the next victim? Is her stalker waiting in the darkness, coiled and ready to strike?
Plot: The novel's premise is an immediately compelling one. While the book's many threads are individually appealing, rather than coalesce, they compete with one another to clutter the story.
Prose/Style: Jameson's writing is generally clear and plainspoken, if at times flat. Instances of overwriting also occur, but the prose would primarily benefit from more organic, atmospheric detail.
Originality: While initially, Jameson's novel may call to mind other novels of cold cases and haunting disappearances, the author ultimately delivers a surprising and multilayered story. Snake-handling, illegal genetic research, and unethical fertility clinic practices add up to an unconventional mystery.
Character Development: Protagonist Alice Joseph brings an element of glamour to the story through her stardom; the brightness of the stage lights are contrasted with the darkness of her family's past. However, Jameson's novel has a somewhat overcrowded cast; with multiple characters vying for the spotlight, individual players aren't provided with the attention and focus they might deserve.
Date Submitted: August 07, 2019