NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Sunday, October 20, 2013

After Her by Joyce Maynard

3.0 out of 5 stars "Nothing bad will happen to you. Or maybe something will. And you'll survive it." 
Rachel Torricelli is 14 years old during the summer of 1979 when her beloved Mount Tamalpais and surrounding park area (north of San Francisco) is terrorized by a serial killer known as the Sunset Strangler. Rachel and her sister Patty, mostly unsupervised since their parents divorced, had been roaming the park in their Marin Country backyard for years when their father, Detective Anthony Torricelli, Chief of Homicide, is assigned to lead the investigation.

As the summer passes and the murder toll grows, Rachel and Patty, with an unusually close bond and vivid imaginations, begin their own quest to try to help their mostly absent and case-obsessed father. With their mother secreted in her room reading library books, and with nothing but time on their hands, the curious sisters have a lot of freedom and what they crave most seems to be attention. Rachel, suddenly in demand by the popular kids from school because of her father's connection to the case, finds herself making up lurid details to appease their curiosity. Patty, abandoned by the older sister whom she has always followed, turns to basketball to find her voice. Things take a sudden turn when the girls have an encounter on the mountain that brings them face-to-face with the killer.

I'm of two minds about this novel. For some reason, I found it hard to put down, though it was not actually very thrilling or suspenseful. Despite the threat of the serial killer in their neighborhood, the sisters are reckless and, lacking any type of adult supervision, cook up some preposterous schemes and engage in some dangerous sleuthing. I didn't find Rachel to be a compelling narrator and the depiction of her prepubescent self was tedious and repetitive at times. Patty is her sidekick. The nature of their close bond and relationship explains some of their behavior and I found their activities interesting at times, though very odd. Rachel has some sort of strange visions that require effort to find credible, and it is this package of naivete and weirdness that ultimately makes the duo not taken seriously when it counted.

The author writes that this novel has been inspired by a true story and spent a lot of time and effort in research. So, this story is not so much murder mystery, but more about the toll that being connected to the case took on this family. 
Amazon Vine ARC.

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