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Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen
After reading Spin in 2012, I delightedly found a new must-read author in Catherine McKenzie. She is one of few authors whose novel topic doesn’t matter to me; if she wrote it, it’s almost a guarantee I’m going to love it. So far, she has yet to prove me wrong.
Fractured is Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel, which is somewhat fractured in its timelines as the reader must try to piece together what has happened since Julie Prentice’s arrival in a tight-knit community in Cincinnati. Julie, a famous and somewhat controversial novelist, and her family are looking for peace and quiet to escape Heather Stanhope, a former law-school acquaintance with a vendetta against Julie.
Upon arrival in their new home, Julie’s neighbor, John, recognizes her as the author of The Murder Game. Intrigued by her, John takes any opportunity he can to engage in conversation with her. They become running partners, and their closeness soon threatens the bonds between each of their families. Misunderstandings and nosiness from other neighbors disrupts Julie’s desire for calm and quiet, causing rifts in her fragile relationships with John and his wife Hanna. And then hang-up calls begin, disturbing “gifts” are left on doorsteps…and Julie wonders if Heather has found her again, while everyone around Julie—including her own husband—ponder if she is the source of the threats against herself.
A little bit Desperate Housewives paired with the ingredients of a psychological thriller such as Gone Girl, Fractured had me guessing and doubting myself at every page turn. Should I have sympathy for Julie? No, no, I shouldn’t! Julie is her own stalker, there is no Heather! But wait! Heather really is real! Hold up, is someone dead?!!! Is it Julie? What’s happening?? Those were some of the many thoughts racing through my head as I read as quickly as I could for everything to finally be revealed.
Fractured begins in the present setting, where readers are informed through John’s narrative that they are going to court. But what for? Did John do something to Julie? Then the narrative alternates in the past between John and Julie, showing how their friendship blooms and how the dynamics in the neighborhood change due to Julie’s influence. During this time, readers are introduced to an intriguing blend of personalities whom I myself would not want to get to know—especially Cindy, whose days involve spying on neighbors and reporting everything through iNeighbor, drawing up strict rules for block parties, and pushing for speed bumps to be added to their street, among other things.
This is one book that I think any reader will find challenging to decipher every clue and determine the outcome before the denouement. I knew early on I had no hope for discovering where Catherine McKenzie was taking me, and I loved every second of that thrilling ride. Definitely pick up this book, but I give you this warning: you will not want to set it down once you start!
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Lake Union Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.