Friday, July 29, 2011

"Never Knowing," by Chevy Stevens


I think it's impossible not to like Chevy Stevens' books. I loved "Still Missing," and "Never Knowing" is a pretty great second novel.

This novel follows Sara Gallagher as she attempts to find her birth parents. The fear and disgust Sara's birth mother feels upon being found don't make sense, so Sara hires a private investigator, who finds out the woman is really the only victim who ever escaped Canada's notorious Campsite Killer. Once she adds up the math, Sara realizes with horror that she is the daughter of a serial rapist and killer--one who is still on the loose.

She wants to forget all about it, or at least deal with it in therapy, but somehow the media gets a hold of the story. And then a man calls, claiming to be her father ...

I don't want to go into any more detail because this really is a compelling book that will keep readers speeding through to the very end. But I have to point a few things I didn't like. In Stevens' first book, the protagonist tells her story to a therapist. I loved it. In this novel, the protagonist again tells the whole story to her therapist. What worked the first time felt uninspired this time around. But it's not enough to put off any readers. Second, Sara's daughter, Ally, is a brat. I loathe misbehaving children in real life, so why would I want to read about them? Especially when the parent does nothing to curb the bad behavior. (I'm looking at you, "Certain Girls," by Jennifer Weiner. Yech.) Finally, I felt Sara's treatment of her fiance was pretty terrible at times. She freaks out about things, he tries to help, she treats him even worse. It put me off at times.

In all, Sara is a flawed yet interesting and compelling character. Stevens does a great job of humanizing what others would consider a monster, much like in her first novel. She's comfortable with her characters, knows them well. And she can really tell a story. I'd highly recommend this to mystery-genre lovers.

4.5 stars

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