Today I’m posting my review of Evelyn, After, by Victoria Helen Stone, a suspenseful and well plotted psychological thriller.
Evelyn Tester had just taken a sleeping pill, prescribed by her husband, who is a well-known psychiatrist. She was asleep when her husband phoned, asking her to drive to meet him in a lonely country road, because he had a problem with his car. She was bewildered and confused due to the pill she’d taken, but she was aware that her husband wasn’t alone, he was with a beautiful woman, and they’d had a car accident. From then on, Evelyn made every effort to piece together what happened that night and find out everything she could about her husband’s companion.
There is plenty of suspense and there are many twists in the plot as Evelyn carries out her own private and secret investigation, during which she finds out more than she bargained for, including a devastating crime. Her behaviour becomes obsessive, and often rash, yet although the ending is traumatic for everyone involved, Evelyn after, herself is a very different woman to Evelyn before.
Evelyn, After is narrated in the third person from Evelyn’s point of view. The most original aspect of the novel is the way the plot is gradually disclosed. The first chapter marks the present plot time. The accident has already occurred, Evelyn has uncovered some vital information, and she has decided to take her vengeance on the woman she considers has ruined her life. From then on, the author uses two time frames, before and after chapter one. The chapters are alternately called ‘before’ and ‘after’, until the final chapter, which is called ‘Now’, and we return to the present. It isn’t confusing, in fact it adds to the suspense, and makes the reader eager to turn the pages and find out what happened before and after.
There is plenty of suspense throughout, because the loose ends aren’t tied up until the final chapter, when everything comes together and we learn exactly what happened and which role every character played in the events.
However, for me, the real subject of the novel isn’t the accident, the crime, or the affair, the novel is about the transformation of Evelyn, who is able to recover the woman she once was and follow her dreams, instead of living her life as the woman everyone takes for granted. Good for her! It’s not a happy ending, but it is a satisfactory ending, because all the threads are neatly tied up. It’s also a hopeful ending, for Evelyn, at least.
Victoria Helen Stone is the nom de plume for USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl. After publishing more than twenty-five novels, she is now taking a turn toward the darker side of genre fiction. Born and educated in the Midwest, she finished her first manuscript just after college. In 2016, the American Library Association awarded her the prestigious Reading List Award for outstanding genre fiction. Having escaped the plains of her youth, she now resides with her family in a small town high in the Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and not skiing (too dangerous).
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