Brad Parks delivers a riveting, emotionally powerful stand-alone domestic suspense thriller perfect for fans of The Couple Next Door and What She Knew.
Disaster is always closer than you know.
It was a lesson Melanie Barrick learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood—with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex—she thought that turmoil was behind her.
Until one Tuesday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.”
Her nightmare grows worse when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever.
Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye—who has been assigned Melanie’s case—has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women.
Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation... or her undoing.
Set in Virginia, this exciting if flawed domestic thriller from Parks (Say Nothing) centers on working mother Melanie Barrick, whose life is turned upside down after the police find a half-kilo of cocaine in her home and social services takes her three-month-old son, Alex, away from her and her husband. Melanie, who has been through a lot in her life stints in foster care as a child and, most recently, a rape must somehow prove her innocence or lose Alex and her freedom. As chief deputy commonwealth's attorney Amy Kaye builds a seemingly airtight case against Melanie, she also struggles to identify a serial rapist who has been victimizing women in the area for decades. Predictably, the two story lines connect. Although Parks excels at keeping the pages turning with brisk pacing, relentlessly high tension, and a knotty narrative, the story particularly the ending comes off as too contrived.