Frank Turner Hollon has created the perfect crime, carefully measuring his characters’ actions and reactions in a profoundly disturbing manner. This author understands the innate complications of such a scenario, at which he excels, plumbing the small guilts and insecurities that exist below the surface of any marriage. But this is no crime procedural, rather an in-depth character study of a dysfunctional relationship.
On the surface, Michael and Suzanne Brace are the perfect couple, the beautiful wife with her writer husband, who comes from a successful and wealthy family. In reality, Michael and Suzanne, are locked in a passionless embrace, he hoping for new beginnings, she trapped by her own limited imagination. They’ve been drifting apart for longer than Michael cares to admit, the exuberance of their early romance trickling away, replaced with a woman plagued by headaches who sleeps alone, her husband relegated to the living room couch in lieu of the spare bedroom.
Michael’s life has been in a downward spiral since the beginning of his writing career, when his short story was published by a prestigious national magazine. Since then, he has been unable to write anything of significance and has virtually stopped trying. The fifteen years of his marriage to Suzanne highlight the unhappiness that has begun to dog his every waking moment.
Anxious about an impending lack of finances, Michael has been writing a novel, unaware that Suzanne has read every page, overwhelmed with rage that he should somehow intuit what she has never told anyone. Her background filled with the anxiety and distrust of alcoholism and mental illness, Suzanne has avoided any contact with her family of origin. Michael has accepted these terms, little realizing the turn his life will take while he stands idly by.
The Braces’ marriage has deteriorated significantly, much closer to the edge of ruin than Michael anticipates with his wits dulled by alcohol and happier times. Suddenly Michael finds himself mired in an unimaginable quagmire, his normal consanguinity turned to confusion, a man with no future questioning his past. Hollon incisively examines the impossible tension between a husband and wife locked into a marriage that has lost the shine of its early promise and settled into monotony and mutual rancor.
This masterful drama catches the reader in a web of dark intrigue, turning one man’s slightly unhappy world into an overnight horror story. From disconnected spouses to taut courtroom drama, the pace of the novel is constant, a slow building toward the inevitable, a perfectly executed denouement. Hollon is an aficionado of the human condition in all its small betrayals in this finely wrought tale of two people caught in a web of destruction. The author walks a fine line between a carefully plotted revenge and the redemption of a man who never asks much from the world until he loses everything, only to learn that “freedom is complete, or it isn’t freedom at all.”