2016 Book 57: GIRL IN THE DARK by Marion Pauw

Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw
ISBN: 9780062424792 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062424815 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781511358408 (Audio MP3-CD)
ASIN: B00Y889ZLK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow

An award-winning, internationally bestselling author makes her American debut with this taut, riveting domestic drama—a twisting tale of psychological suspense about a long-lost brother convicted of a horrifying crime and a sister’s fight to clear his name

A  single mother and lawyer, Iris has a demanding boss, a young son with behavior issues, and a judgmental, aloof mother. Just a few years ago, Iris was confident and in control. But every day since Aaron’s birth, she’s condemned herself for being a failure—a bad parent who cannot cope with a difficult child. Though she loves her son fiercely, she despairs over his intense outbursts, which are becoming increasingly harder to control.

One thing that keeps Aaron calm is the large aquarium in Iris’s mother’s home. Iris has never understood why Agatha, usually so detached, would keep an oversize tank filled with exotic tropical fish, and of course, her mother won’t say—until an incident involving one of the fish leads Iris to make a shocking discovery.

She has an older brother. His name is Ray.

Why did her mother hide Ray’s existence from her? Did her late father know? And why does Agatha still refuse to say anything about Ray?

Curious about this sibling she has never known, Iris begins to search for long-buried truths. What she learns surprises—and horrifies—her. Her older brother is autistic—and in a hospital for the criminally insane for brutally murdering his neighbor and her little girl.

When she meets Ray, she meets a man who looks heartbreakingly like her own son. A man who is devoted to his tropical fish and who loves baking bread. A man whose naïveté unnerves her. There is no question that Ray is odd and obsessive, unable to communicate like the rest of us. But is he really a killer—”The Monster Next Door,” as the media dubbed him—a beast who committed a brutal murder because of a broken heart?  

Told in the alternating voices of Ray and Iris, Girl in the Dark is a compulsive, page-turning thriller about lies, murder, and the tenacity of a family determined to stay together, even as they are pulled apart at the most vulnerable seams.   

Iris Kastelein is a single mother and a lawyer. Iris loves her mother and is grateful that she helps her with her young son. Iris knows that mother is secretive, but she has no idea that the secret her mother has kept all these years is an older half-brother. Now she must uncover the secrets of her brother’s life and murder conviction in Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw.

Iris wouldn’t classify her mother as unloving because she obviously shows her love to her grandson. Even though she’s been supportive of Iris throughout the years, Iris knows that she doesn’t really understand her mother and the rationale for her aloof manner. It isn’t until she’s house-sitting while her mother is on vacation that Iris uncovers one of her mother’s secrets, an older child that she gave up to the state. Iris’s new sibling is 15 years older and has been convicted of murdering his neighbor and her young daughter. He’s been institutionalized, first in prison and then in a mental facility since the crime occurred. Iris is determined, despite her mother’s objections, to meet her brother Ray and then look into appealing his conviction. Iris must also contend with a fractious client accused of molesting a minor on film, a boss that expects her to keep her client happy at all costs, and the ongoing issues with her seemingly out-of-control three-year-old son, Aaron. 

Iris soon learns that her brother Ray was sent away at an early age, but had a decent life as a baker and owner of a saltwater aquarium, the very same aquarium now in her mother’s home. Although Ray seems prone to violent outbursts, he also seems quite gentle and incapable of subterfuge or true violence towards another person. The more Iris digs into Ray’s case, the more confused she becomes, as there is little physical evidence and Ray’s comments can be viewed as declarations of guilt and innocence. Both Iris and Ray seem to be struggling with their ability to connect to others and one another. Iris struggles with her ability to be a good parent to her son, as well as her ability to be a good daughter to her mother. Ray struggles to relate to everyone and only wants to be a part of a family. Once Iris understands that Ray is on the autistic spectrum, it helps to explain his past and present behavior. Is this enough for an appeal? Unfortunately, the more questions Iris answers the more questions are raised? How far is too far when it comes to helping family? Will Iris be able to decide whether some secrets should never be uncovered?

I found Girl in the Dark to initially be a somewhat confusing read, primarily because it was told in alternating voices of Iris and Ray and there didn’t seem to be any connection between these two characters. (Of course, the migraine headache I was dealing with that day might have had a lot to do with the confusion.) Once their connection was revealed, the confusion seemed to dissipate and the story seemed to move much quicker. Even with the minor confusion at the beginning of the story, I found this to be a fast-paced and quick read. I liked both Iris and Ray, but can’t say the same for their mother. Ms. Pauw has crafted a story that builds on the intrigue and takes several interesting twists and turns before arriving at the conclusion. No, I won’t tell you what happens . . . read the story for yourself! What I will say is that if you enjoy psychological suspense, stories about dysfunctional families, or twisted endings, then you’ll definitely want to read Girl in the Dark. Did I enjoy reading Girl in the Dark? Yes, so much so that I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Pauw in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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 Girl in the Dark: A Novel

Girl in the Dark: A Novel

Girl in the Dark: A Novel


Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

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