Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.
After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly.
What would happen if you wrote a book about a murder and picked up a stalker? You might move across the country, right? You might look over your shoulder a bit more. You would probably be wary of new relationships. All of these things are part of Julie Prentice’s reality in Fractured by Catherine McKenzie. When her family picks up and moves to a new home, they do not expect problems to follow.
Julie meets John, a fellow neighbor, who also likes to run. The two form a fast friendship. Getting away from the local busybodies and the expectation to live up to a perfect picture of suburbia, Julie and John bond as they pound the pavement. When a minor incident leads to neighborhood drama, the friendship is tested and events snowball to a conclusion that no one expected.
Fractured is the most well named novel that I have ever read. The entire story seems fractured and disjointed. The timeline skips around in each chapter (“ten months ago”, “eight months ago”), and there are Julie and John both narrate. This technique would be appropriate if it added something to the novel, but the only contribution it made was confusion. The story moves at a sluggish pace, and I was never really sure what type of book I was reading. Is it a thriller about a stalker? Is it a novel about the dangers of suburbia? Is it about an affair? The end of the book and the “big problem” and its resolution made it clear that Fractured was about none of these things.
The characters in this story are not likable and behave in ways that are contrary to common sense. Why would you train cameras on your neighbor’s house after a dog bite? Why would you just show up at a neighbor’s vacation spot far from your home by “coincidence”? The stalker does not even make sense in this novel. You never get a sense of why she is stalking the author.
Fractured ultimately feels like it was written with no clear plan for the outcome of the book. Plodding, predictable, and slow are the best adjectives I can use to describe it.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina