Title: The Ninth Step
Author: Grant Jerkins
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: September 2012
Genre: Adult Crime/Thriller
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
Don't know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn't that.
Helen is a recovering alcoholic and seeks out Edgar, the man who was driving the car she crashed into, resulting in the death of Edgar's beloved wife Judy. As Helen and Edgar's relationship grows, Helen becomes part of a blackmail scheme when a note appears: does he know you killed his wife?
With the threat of losing everything, Helen must come to terms with her past and what this means for her future and the man she now loves.
This is a swift read with interesting characters and some great twists. I didn't think I would find Helen to be a very interesting or sympathetic character, but Jerkins does a good job making her human and good intentioned. Her character changes so dramatically from the beginning of the book to the end, I don't honestly know what I think of Helen by then, but I do know it was a great ride.
Edgar on the other hand is safe, sweet and quiet. He's a school teacher who collects Japanese puzzle boxes, awaiting the birth of him and Judy's first child when they are struck by Helen's car and his life changes forever. Edgar's normal life is set into an uncontrollable downward spiral so that when Edgar does finally manage to pull it back together and find happiness, I'm rooting for him. It's easy to see early on that Edgar's choices will forever be tainted by this series of events, so that when things do reach their climax and get out of control, Edgar becomes an extreme character of himself.
A series of creepy and shady characters complete Helen and Edgar's friends and non-friends. The unsettling feeling of something always being a little off starts on page one and reaches a powerful climax by the end. The good guys aren't good, the bad guys aren't bad. Well, they are, but oh, how that line is very blurry by the end.
The ending is satisfying, yet extremely harsh. I did like the ending but the momentum for the story was so out of control by that point, I feel like everything was uneasy still. Which isn't a bad thing.
I really enjoyed this book and I think most people would really like it. It's a thriller you can't put down.
Rating: 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend