Sunday, July 02, 2006

Perfect Nightmare

The prolific John Saul has a new book ready to be published called In the Dark of the Night which should be hitting bookstores later this month. In the meantime, I suggest picking up his previous novel, Perfect Nightmare, a gripping thriller that will sure keep you reading past your bedtime.

Perfect Nightmare tells the story of the Kara Marshall, a woman who has made the tough decision of leaving the nice little town where she lives and moving to the city where her husband Steve works. Even though the move will help them financially and will also help to breach the ever-growing gap between Kara and Steve, the news is of course not well received by their 17-year-old daughter Lindsay. But suddenly all plans come to a screeching halt when Lindsay is kidnapped from her own room after the house is put on the market. When the police takes charge, they of course believe the kid is just making her parents feel guilty about the whole move.

Little do they know.

For they are not dealing with an isolated case. There is someone out there. A sick, delusional person who keeps watching. Someone who has been doing this again and again as he sets up the conditions to display an unimaginable scenary.

Perfect Nightmare is a pageturner. It is a great, little novel with all the elements of a classic psychological thriller: here we have a victim, a brave young girl with a mind focused on surviving; we have a parent -in this case the mother- who will stop at nothing to find her; and, we have a deranged psychopath who justifies his madness and records everything in a sick journal. Add to that the supporting neighbor who has been through a similar experience and who becomes a source of solace, and a husband whose role is pretty much decorative. The book succeeds in grabbing the reader from the start and never letting go. This is one novel that you can read in one sit (if you have the time; personally it's something I'd love to do but simply can't). The situations Saul creates and the reactions these cause on the characters are really well crafted and make the reader feel sympathy for the victims. The suspense scenes work very well and the book in general is set on moving the action forward instead of stopping at points for the sake of description or flashbacks. You could say this book has an economy of words and just goes straight to the point (as opposed to, for example, a Dean Koontz novel, where the vocabulary and word-weaving has a weight of its own). I would like to add I'm glad there was no hint of romance between Kara and her neighbor Patrick, something that has been plaguing a LOT of the thrillers I've read in the last few years.

Of course not everything in Perfect Nightmare is flawless. Unfortunately the book starts turning a bit predictable on it's last third. Saul not only leaves a few lose ends but he even raises some genuine questions in the last chapter, only to later say "guess we will never know". Mmmm. I do think we should know.

But don't let this discourage you. Pick up Perfect Nightmare. It's one of the most entertaining reads you will find.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger Bhaswati said...

Sounds like a gripping read. Thanks for the review. I will see if I can find this title here.

And by the way, did I mention I really like the blog's sleek new look? It's great!


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