"Fractured" (Lake Union Publishing), by Catherine McKenzie
The end of summer doesn't need to mean the end of beach reads. And a beach read doesn't need to mean lightweight or purple prose.
Take Canadian novelist-attorney Catherine McKenzie. With her skilled writing, adroit storytelling ability, and realistic and empathetic characters, a simple thriller rises above the mundane.
Her latest release, "Fractured," tells the story of a newly popular contemporary fiction author, Julie Prentice, who is as well-known for her wildly popular first novel as she is for her stalker, a former university classmate. The fictional novel, "The Murder Game," may or may not be based on a real-life murder in Julie's past. When she and her family move to Cincinnati to dodge the stalker and attempt a fresh start, Julie's history looms large.
"Fractured" bounces back and forth in time and between the viewpoints of Julie and her neighbor John, with whom she shares a flirtation, but the movements are so adept, they never become confusing. Instead, readers are hurled through complex and overlapping plots — murder, lying, nosy neighbors, courtroom drama — at a satisfyingly addictive pace.
The only less-than-satisfying aspect of the novel is the ending, which felt a bit too pat, almost like a "Movie of the Week" cop-out. But taking the journey with McKenzie for an afternoon or two is certainly worthwhile.