Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words
Availability Kindle: YES Nook: YES DTB: NO
A forty-something computer programmer and father of three teenagers, Dave Conifer lives with his family in New Jersey. Heavily involved with his kid’s sports and scout activities as well as a self-described fitness fanatic, Conifer still finds time to write. His five previous books are multiple genres including two sports related YA books. For more see the author's blog.
Jane Havelock is stuck in a bad marriage. Her husband Steve is too self-absorbed to help with the care of their daughter or anything around the house. Finally, he hires Rob Manteo, a handyman, who will do the home remodel and repair projects Steve has been dodging – and do them cheap. A huge, muscular and backward type that Steve calls “The Caveman” behind his back, Jane finds Manteo spooky. Yes, over time, Jane’s curiosity and fascination with Manteo turns into a kind of friendship and almost an obsession to understand what drives him. As the Havelock’s marriage deteriorates and Steve’s career goes into a downward spiral, Jane discovers more than she bargained for.
My favorite fiction genre is the thriller so this book was a perfect fit for my tastes. It has all the elements you look for in a thriller - conflict, mystery, and an intense thrilling conclusion, hence the name.
The character of Jane was someone I immediately connected with and liked. Her husband Steve was irritating and unlikeable in the beginning and got worse as the story progressed, becoming a full-fledged … I’m not sure I should use the word I want here … suffice it to say I disliked him more and more. The character of Rob Manteo was mysterious and strange, yet along with Jane, I found myself sympathizing and liking him. The pacing and the storyline were both good with a few twists at the end that I wouldn’t have predicted, yet were consistent with everything that happened before.
Although an excellent read, I do have a couple reservations. First, the ending, while satisfying in many ways, also left me feeling conflicted. Part of me says it was the right ending and another part feels setup. My other reservation isn’t about the book’s contents, but the cover. The cover is an excellent depiction of what Rob Manteo might look like. However, the message it sent me as a potential reader was to expect something in the horror genre, not a thriller. All too often readers do judge a book by its cover. I suspect Conifer might be losing potential readers who don’t make it as far as the book description.
I spotted a small number of typos and proofing errors.
Rating: **** Four Stars