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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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME”

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s spotlight is shining on a book that has been hiding on Pippa since August 2014:  The Next Time You See Me, by Holly Goddard Jones.

 

 

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Beginning:  Emily Houchens watched as Christopher Shelton, who sat in a desk two rows up and one over from her own, leaned back and smoothly slid his notebook over his shoulder, so that the boy sitting behind him could read what was written there.  This second boy, Monty, began to quake with suppressed laughter.  The notebook retracted; an open hand took its place, waiting expectantly, and Monty softly gave him five:  Good one.

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56:  Nancy’s was a dance hall.  It was a Quonset hut the size of a roller rink and similar to a roller rink in design:  The dance floor was a broad oblong of polished oak with a DJ’s station positioned right in the center.  To the right of the dance floor was a long bar and two levels of seating, floor and deck, and this was where you could usually find a decent crowd of drinkers on Fridays and Saturdays, sometimes hundreds of them, their cigarette smoke curling toward the ceiling where it hung, trapped, like a storm cloud.

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Synopsis:  Hailed as “an astoundingly good novel” by Gillian Flynn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl, and winner of the 2014 Kentucky Literary Award, The Next Time You See Me is a gripping tale of mystery, desperation, and redemption.

When a small Southern town’s most fiery single woman is found dead in the woods, it’s not just her secrets that threaten to surface. There’s Ronnie’s sister, Susanna, a dutiful but dissatisfied schoolteacher, mother, and wife; Tony, a failed baseball star turned detective; Emily, a socially awkward thirteen-year-old with a dark secret; and Wyatt, a factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves.

Connected in ways they cannot begin to imagine, their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie, but all of their secret selves. Praised as “immensely satisfying and skillful” by Kate Atkinson, author of New York Times bestseller Life After Life, The Next Time You See Me is a debut novel not to be missed.

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What do you think?  Should I bring this one out of hiding and keep reading?

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