EDGE OF NORMAL

Written by Carla Norton

Review written by Maureen Carlyle


EDGE OF NORMAL
Macmillan
RRP: £12.99
Released: 10th October 2013
Hbk

This novel is both original and gripping. The these is contemporary, as it deals with the serial abduction of young girls, who are kept captive for years and systematically abused.

The main character is Reeve St. Claire, who is struggling to overcome the trauma of her own captivity and abuse, which started when she was 12. She is now in her twenties and still undergoing psychiatric treatment from Dr. Ezra Lerner, a leading specialist in the field. She is reclusive and unable to form any social relationships, even with her own family.

The story is centred in Jefferson County, where there have been other recent cases of the abduction of teenagers, and two of them are still missing. Reeve, who lives in California, was rescued by police from the boot of her abductor's car while she was being moved by him to a new location. The abductor, Daryl Wayne Flint, is now in prison.

Lerner tells Reeve that one of the three kidnapped girls from Jefferson, Tilly Cavanaugh, has been found alive. The perpetrator, Randy Vamderholt, is on remand and will shortly be brought to trial. Lerner wants Reeve to come with him to Jefferson to help with Tilly's rehabilitation. Although reluctant, Tilly eventually agrees, and they go to the Cavanaugh family home, where Tilly is behaving very much as Reeve did in the period immediately following her release. The Jefferson County police are assuming that Vanderholt was also responsible for the abduction of the other two girls and it is feared that unless he can be persuaded to talk, their lives are in jeopardy. Vanderholt is denying having anything to do with the other two kidnappings.

Almost from the start of the novel, the reader is made aware that one criminal is masterminding serial past and present abductions, including Reeve's. He is a bent cop, whose speciality is surveillance. He consequently has access to all police technology. He has set bugs in the homes of all his victims and even in police interview rooms. The actual abductors are merely his tools, and he holds them in complete contempt. His ultimate objective is that they and all the victims will eventually be killed.

Meanwhile, Reeve is succeeding in forging a relationship with Tilly, is becoming more confident and assertive, and begins to understand that the police have not grasped the whole picture. Then Vanderholt is shot by an unknown assassin before he can come to trial.

Reeve is an attractive character, and the intricacy and tension in the plot increase as it moves towards its nail-biting conclusion.

Before we get there, there is a twist in its tail. A first-class piece of storytelling by a writer to watch out for.

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