- Thriller / suspense
- Publication Date:
- Atria Books
- Country of origin:
- United States
- Dimensions (mm):
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potential is not quite realised.
Your Life is Mine is the second novel by Canadian author, Nathan Ripley. Renowned documentary maker Blanche Potter has spent the last twelve years avoiding all mention of her father. In 1996, Chuck Varner killed nine people in a shooting spree in the Harlow Mall in Stilford, California, before turning the gun on himself. Known to few is that he took along Blanche, then seven years old, to witness this.
Now, over twenty years later, Blanche learns that her estranged mother, Crissy, another disciple of Chuck Varner’s cult, has been shot dead, supposedly in a home invasion. Blanche has had a recent visit from Crissy, who was insisting Blanche needed to return for “the next one”, so she is sceptical of the stated circumstances of Crissy’s death: she knows what this news really means. Blanche goes back to the trailer park in Stilford, the scene of her years of indoctrination before she rejected her parents’ teachings, to see if she can prevent a lot more people dying.
Not much real detail is given about Chuck Varner’s murderous cult, and what Blanche endured with her parents is similarly vague. But Blanche does carry a deep guilt, the revelation of which is a jaw-dropping moment.
Some aspects of the story don’t sit quite right: at first Blanche’s genuine response to events is quite believable but, given her upbringing, she is perhaps a little too trusting. Also requiring a major suspension of disbelief is the police interview in which a detainee is shot.
This is not a mystery where the killer can be picked from a list of suspects, although readers may be wondering about some characters as their true nature becomes apparent. While the narrative from the perspective of the unnamed murderer may help the reader eliminate some suspects, trying to guess his identity is a highly unsatisfying undertaking as he does not feature among the named characters, appearing only in the last twenty pages.
Blanche’s backstory is filled in with flashbacks to her youth and extracts from a book written about the shootings. There is plenty of action leading to an exciting climax but the characters seem a bit flat and the build-up of tension does not have the urgency it ought to: the potential is not quite realised.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Atria Books.