REVIEW: THE RED HUNTER, BY LISA UNGER

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.


My Thoughts: The intertwined lives of Claudia and Zoey were fascinating, and kept me reading as they told their alternating tales. Zoey, living in the East Village, tells hers with a first person narrative, so we find something more immediate about her story. About the violence that ripped her world apart one night, in Lost Valley, and the ongoing threats that keep her on her toes, learning how to defend herself.

A different kind of violence tore Claudia’s life apart, also in the East Village, but moving into her father’s old abandoned house in a town called Lost Valley, with her teenage daughter, is her way of starting over. To renovate the old house, to blog about her adventures, and to find her strength. Not knowing the history of the house allowed Claudia to feel optimistic.

Who were the bad guys that murdered Zoey’s parents? How are they now connected to the apparently normal lives that each woman is trying to live? How is each woman dealing with her rage? What will finally trigger another bout of violence, and bring some answers that have plagued them for years?

As The Red Hunter weaves back and forth between the past and the present, we learn more about all the characters, and how the present threat has ended up right back where it started, in an old house in Lost Valley. As Claudia stands before the home that could have been a new beginning, she has a realization: “How had she gotten here? How many accidents and mistakes and choices had she made? How many of them had been wrong or right, good or bad? Maybe that’s all life was, this impossibly complicated helix of choice and accident, things you could control and couldn’t. And when the day was done, the only measure of success was how happy you were, how much you loved and were loved.”

Each woman finds something in the answers that will allow her to move forward. A 5 star read.

***
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REVIEW: WHAT WE FIND, BY ROBYN CARR

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Maggie Sullivan, a brilliant neurosurgeon living in Denver, Colorado, has seen her life falling apart around her, bit by bit. Her practice is in a shambles due to some criminal actions by her partners; she is facing a wrongful death lawsuit; and she has just lost her baby in a miscarriage. Further, her partner and the father of the child has dumped her for being “too depressed” for him to deal with.

What is Maggie to do? She finds herself in Sullivan’s Crossing where her father, Sully, has a campground and a general store. Wrapped up in the love of family and friends, Maggie believes that she might finally begin to heal here. But then her father has a heart attack.

In the subsequent weeks, as she helps her father through his recovery, she also meets another camper, a man she at first dismisses as a drifter, but in getting to know Cal Jones, she is able to see how she can open up her world to possibilities. Can the two of them forge a relationship? What does getting to know Cal mean? As he answers some questions about his life before, the family he came from, and what he wants for the future, he is modeling what she herself needs to do, moving forward.

What We Find is full of beautiful settings and interesting characters, from Maggie’s mother Phoebe and her stepfather Walter, to Cal’s father Jed and mother Marissa. How far does the apple fall from the tree? Does the past always inform the future? In reaching some conclusions about the characters, I came to hope that they would not end with this book. I wanted to continue the journey with them, in at least one more book or two. 4.5 stars.