Title : Deceived
Author : Heena Rathore P.
Genre : Crime Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Publisher : Citrus Publishers
Disclaimer : I got an ARC of the book from the publishers.
Allison Stone, a young writer, wants to carve out an independent life for herself that has a semblance of normalcy. She is trying to recover from the trauma of a murdered mother and brother in her teen years. With her loyal German Shepherd by her side and a doting boyfriend she is moving in with, Allison wants to start over again and put the past behind her.
Danny, the ambitious journalist, moves to the town of Dewar to investigate the killings of Allison’s family members and many other murders spanning over decades, that disturbingly seem to be falling into a pattern of serial killings.
And all the while, Allison is trying to settle into a normal life, a psychopath has Allison in his sight, stalking her for a fate more horrendous than she has gone through.
This suspenseful thriller explores the darkest of human emotions, the unpredictability of people and the depths that they can stoop to, propelled by their dark motivations. It underlines the fact that sometimes we don’t completely know the people we are close to.
The characters in the book are diverse. There is a girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and her young brother. There is a journalist trying to chase a potential serial killer. These people have strong unforeseeable ties with a 13 year old girl who slaughtered her parents and a psychopath out to take revenge. The details of the lives of the protagonists and the the supporting characters adds flavour to the broth that is being stewed.
I read this excellent crime thriller on a long train journey. As the landscape flew past, so did I turn the pages; so thrilling is the book. I had a wonderful time reading this debut novel even though at no point did it read like a first book. Heena is a master storyteller, narrating an arresting story spanning decades and families.
She uses the contrasting PoVs to move the action forward. It is not a chronological telling of the horror that unfolds ; rather the story jumps back and forth and the pieces fall into place, as the action builds up.
The book talks of the deviants of the society, the sociopaths and the psychopaths, here in the book, living in the woods or on the edge of the town.
The killer is profiled rather well and his motivations are well researched and credible.
The book is open ended and a few things are left unanswered although most of the threads are tied up neatly.
This is one book which is complete in the horror it induces and yet it has all the makings of a series.
I do wish that the author decides to pick up the few threads that have been left dangling tantalizingly and write the next part.
The book starts with a talk about psychopaths and sociopaths. This introduces the reader to what is to come. Michael’s journal entries take these forward by quoting notorious psychopaths and sociopaths. It adds an interesting angle to the story.
The story unfolds through the Points of View of the characters and through a bunch of journal entries of the mysterious Michael. The quotes of various psychopaths lends a sinister feeling to the initial, normal, happy-in-love scenario. The characters seem to be having ordinary lives, but the horror is just beneath the surface, waiting to erupt.
Most characters are well developed, a few with much clarity. Allison and Elizabeth are way different from the watch man at the law firm and yet they are all divested with an equal amount of detail.
Heena’s writing style is very good. It has a great flow. The dialogues are pithy and move the story forward very well. The pacing of the story is excellent and the action builds up to the crescendo of the climax very well.
The thrill factor of the book is good. Apart from the gruesome murders, there is an element of stalking and mysterious incidents around the protagonist, Allison that build up the suspense and the horror to a well thought out climax.
The book is well researched and the story is told extremely well but some characters and situations are a little fuzzy, like the mysterious voodoo practitioner or even Allison’s father, who otherwise is a pivotal character in the story.
There is Phil, who is mentioned briefly but whom no one seems to want to trace after the double murders, in spite of the fact that he could hold the key to the mystery.
There is a philandering wife and mother who seems to be having an affair just so that her murder can be explained away till the real murderer is unmasked and that too literally.
In an attempt to leave a trail of false clues for the reader, a few situations and incidents are hatched that are not explained clearly through.
Again, I feel these situations and characters can be well developed if there is a sequel.
The setting of the book is the quiet town of Dewar, an unassuming place with an inefficient police force that has been unable to resolve or even follow the leads in the murders that happen with surprising regularity. This seems a little incredulous.
Also, the introduction of Steve coming from outside to investigate the murders sounds a little far fetched. His attempts at investigative journalism look a little juvenile. He reaches conclusions without much reasoning and he naively assumes that confronting people who could be prime suspects would help him solve the murders.
The book has a very contemporary feel. The characters are smart, going through the motions of their routines. There is just too much detail on who eats what and what meetings are lined up for the day. All this does not give a feel of the place, only of the lives of the characters. Though, to be fair, the woods at the edge of the town and the placid lake behind the mansion are excellent settings in their own right.
There is something about the names of the characters that make the story slightly confusing. Although the characters are fleshed out well, there are pairs of names that are very similar sounding. There are Steve and Stephen, Ellie and Allie for Elizabeth and Allison, Danny and Donny, because of whom I sometimes stumbled a little in the story.
A perfect psychological thriller, a compulsive page turner, a goose bump inducing racy read, Deceived is deservingly bone chilling.
I rate this book four stars 🌠🌠🌠🌠