Monday, June 6, 2016

The Body Reader by Anne Frasier

Rating: WORTHY!

This was an novel with a really interesting set-up, which was well-written, and which actually made good on the promise of the premise!

A woman who was a police detective was abducted and held in an underground cell, abused for three years, then suddenly she got a chance to escape and ran with it - literally. Now she's back in the world and trying to cope with three missing years of her life while the world, including her boyfriend, moved on. One thing she learned in those three years, apart from resilience, was how to expertly read even the minutest of body language. The problem is, her troubles are far from over.

Jude Fontaine's take on, and reintegration into everyday life was what made this story engaging from the start for me. She wasn't up for taking the usual trajectory. She wanted to take charge of her life again in her own way, and most of all, she wanted her job back. Eventually she gets it, but on day one there's a murder of a young girl which is ham-fistedly set up to look like a suicide, and something is off about this whole thing.

The investigation doesn't go well. No one seems to want to trust that Jude is really ready for the job despite her evaluations coming back fine. She's dumped on a new partner who doesn't trust her and doesn't think she can handle it. Their best hope for a lead doesn't want to talk (or does she?), and someone is trailing Jude as she rides home on her new motorbike one night. What the heck was going on here had me making some wild guesses. Did she not kill her captor when she escaped? Was he working alone? Is there some sort of conspiracy or trafficking going on here? Are the cops involved? What happened between Jude and her father all those years ago before she emancipated herself, and ditched him and her brother for years?

This novel was told well from the off. Even the prologue was actually chapter one, which is perfect for me because I've been arguing that's how it should be for a long time! Finally an author who shows everyone how it's done! Put your prologue in chapter one and I'll read it, otherwise, no!

It wasn't all plan sailing though. It became pretty obvious who the villain was quite early in the story, and if I can figure that out, you know it has to be quite glaring, because I'm usually hopeless at that. That aside, there were only a couple of places where the writing fell on its face. One was in Jude's interaction with her boyfriend. In some ways, he ended-up ironically being treated like a kidnapped girl who had reached her expiration date. It felt like the author included him and then didn't know what to do with him, so decided to write him out and really didn't care how it looked. It really showed badly in the writing of that scene. Why even involve him? If she'd left it how it ended after their first encounter it would have been fine. That second bite really bites and was embarrassing!

The novel was also one chapter too long! If it had ended with the helicopter taking off it would have been just about perfect. That last chapter rather spoiled things I felt. I was thrilled that the author realized that Jude (the un-obscure!) - of all female main characters - didn't need a guy to validate her. That was a smart move. I liked Jude, despite her off-the rails behavior here and there, and she was well-worth reading about, so I was happy! I was glad to have read this, and I recommend this novel as a worthy read.