review · U.S.

TWICE by Lisa Unger writing as Lisa Miscione

Twice is the third Lydia Strong novel.  Lydia is a New York City private investigator and true crime writer who works with her partner, Jeffrey Mark, a former FBI agent turned private investigator. Lydia and Jeff investigate the murder of famous painter Julian Ross’s second husband.  Ten years earlier, shewas exonerated in the death of her first husband.  Their investigation takes them from New York City to the small upstate town of Haunted, which is the perfect name for the Gothic goings-on in the investigation.  Solving Julian’s husband’s murder involves digging into Julian’s family’s past, which is laden with secrets.  Helping them along the way are Dax Chicago, their mysterious and funny bodyguard, and Detective Ford McKirdy, a lonely 50-ish detective whose job is slowly killing him.  A large chunk of the book is also devoted to Jeffrey and Lydia’s hunt for Jed McIntyre, an escaped serial killer.  Lydia’s first true crime book was about Jed McIntyre, the man who murdered her mother when she was a teenager.

As you can tell from the first paragraph, this novel is heavy on plot:  there are many twists inthe murder investigation, and there are many twists in Jed McIntyre’s hunt for Lydia.  Unger does a good job balancing both stories.  I preferred the murder investigation to the serial-killer-on-the-loose story, but that’s because I liked the Gothic, family-secret-laden story more than the obsessed-serial-killer story.  This might be because this is the first Lydia Strong book I’ve read, so I don’t quite have all the background about Jed McIntyre than I’d have if I’d read the previous books before.
I’d recommend this book to thriller fans that like a dash of Gothic horror, and to fans of tough heroines as well.
Twice by Lisa Unger writing as Lisa Miscione

Publisher:  BroadwayBooks
Publication date (reissue): February 7, 2012
Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

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review · U.S.

THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman

A summary of This Beautiful Life  makes it sound like  aripped-from-the-headlines movie-of-the-week (or maybe like a tawdry daytimetalk show episode). Fifteen-year-old Jake receives a pornographic email from a younger classmate, forwards it to his friends, and his life and his family member’s lives fall apart.  It’s a novel about rich people in private school in New York City, it’s a novel about disaffected teenagers, and it’s a novel about the midlife crises of the parents.  So why did this particular story work for me?  Schulman tells thestory from the perspectives of the parents, their son, and the young girl at the center of the scandal, and she gets their voices down.  They are all imperfect, lonely people.
Why have I never read a book by Helen Schulman before?  I gobbled this one up in just over a day.  Her writing is so smart, the characters are so achingly and painfully real: it’s strange to say that it was a delight to read this book about a family falling apart during the teenage son’s sexting scandal, but it really was a great read.
THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: August 2, 2011
Source:  library