Ha ha. My poor attempt at a joke. Kevin O’Brien’s purported thriller Left for Dead begins with a serial killer known as Rembrandt (for his lovely makeup skills) on the loose, preying on women of a certain age. The focus shifts abruptly when one of his victims, Claire Ferguson Shaw, is found alive. Once Claire regains her memory and reunites with her family, she begins to wonder what is really going on. Her friends and husband seem evasive. Considered troublemakers in their small town, her son has run away, and his best friend has left on a sudden backpacking trip. Claire’s memory of what happened the night of her abduction remains stubbornly hidden. And it appears that someone is watching her. Is it Rembrandt coming to finish the job? Why are there so many disappearances in her town? And what’s up with the “civic club” her husband belongs to? Claire must find the answer to these questions…they could save her life.
I think I made the description of the book sound better than it actually was. The book started off promisingly enough from the victims’ perspective as each encounters Rembrandt. Even as you were introduced to Claire and learn her backstory, there is still hope. Unfortunately, what O’Brien appears to lack is nuance. He is heavy-handed with dialogue and plot. The comments Linda, Claire’s supposed “best friend” make are so obnoxious and intrusive that it’s hard to imagine any real person not replying, “Mind your own effing business.” However, these comments serve to let us know that Linda is hiding something and advance the plot. Obviously this plot advancement could have been handled better. I also found Claire’s derogatory thoughts about Linda somewhat offensive. Granted, Linda is evil, but there was something about the way O’Brien had Claire talk about Linda’s food and hair that seemed a little too much. We get that she is a pitiful, evil, vengeful cow, but come on. There was a level of meanness that threatened to push my sympathy towards Linda at times. I think a better writer could have handled that relationship better. All the relationships actually. The young, handsome detective is treated like crap by everyone except for poor damsel-in-distress Claire for no real reason. Claire’s husband talks to her and treats her like she is a 4-year-old. It’s like O’Brien wanted to make as much progress as possible writing his novel and just sped through.
And the plot itself was muddled. I’m still not clear exactly who was responsible for what because it seemed like certain people had certain plans that other people who had been involved in other plans didn’t know about. Are you confused? I was.
I read this book in a few hours and stayed up way longer reading it than it deserved, but I wanted to finish it. It’s a mediocre book, and I admit to skimming the last few pages because I just didn’t care. I had an idea where the book was going about halfway through, and it took its precious time getting there. Thankfully I spent only 50 cents on it at the booksale.