"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

04 August 2014

2014 Book Review #30: after her

I've read 30 books so far this calendar year!  I just love to read and since I no longer watch TV (well, until the USA/PBS decides to show Downton Abbey again), I read in the evenings and often during breakfast if Dave has already left for work.

This book was bought by my sister Joy, who loaned it to me because I had enjoyed another book by this same author.  This one, though, was just ok.  I mean, it had some very exciting parts and the underlying themes were excellent, but the overall story just didn't grab me.  I think I was too disturbed by some of the "coming of age" scenes and descriptions.....I felt like they were unnecessary and definitely not for under age 17.


The story opens in 1979, in Marin County, north of San Francisco, CA.  It is summer time and Rachel, along with her younger sister Patty, are on summer vacation from school.  Their father is a homicide detective and their mom is dealing with chronic depression, although they don't know this at the time.  Their mother often leaves them alone to fend for themselves and they are very independent.  Their favorite thing to do is to explore the trails on the mountain behind their house.

Patty is 11 and loves basketball and dogs.  She is a quiet, introspective child.  Rachel, a couple of years older, is on the verge of becoming a teen and is learning to navigate her life in various social settings but she much prefers the company of her little sister.  Rachel loves making up stories, writing in a journal and thinks she can read minds.  Sometimes, she really does have visions.....whether she wants to or not.

At some point in the beginning of the summer, a young woman turns up dead on one of the trails on the mountain.  Soon, more women are found murdered and Rachel and Patty's dad is now assigned to finding the killer.  The media begins to kill the killer the "Sunset Strangler" as he strangles his victims and  they are usually discovered around sunset.  Rachel's dad tells the girls to stop playing on the mountain trails until the killer is caught.  They don't listen very well though. 

Over the next year, as more and more women turn up dead, Rachel sees her dad slowly unravel.....and so Rachel decides to try to help her father by using her self as bait.  But this plan backfires, and instead of finding the killer, the consequences of her actions destroy's her father's career and changes the lives of everyone she loves forever.

Thirty years later, the "sunset strangler" is still at large, so Rachel concocts a new strategy of finding him to vindicate her father...who is now dead.  This plan unearths a long-buried family secret!


Although this book was inspired by the real case of the "Trailside Killer" from Marin County, CA in the late 1970s, the plot just didn't grab me or even seem believable.  I mean, what 13 year old decides to use her self as bait?  It just seemed too far fetched.  

BUT..the underlying themes of the father-daughter relationship, marriage struggles, and a young girl's first sexual awareness, along with a sister bond like no other, was the draw for me.  The author does an excellent job with character development (in my opinion) and with drawing the reader in to wanting the best for Patty and Rachel.

I was laughing at some parts of the story as it just reminded me of my own teen years in the 1970s......the humor in the plot line was excellent!!

There was no downright offensive language but some of the sexual exploration stuff was such that could be avoided I believe and still keep the gist of the plot moving.  But I do see why the author included some of the scenes that she did.

I did prefer her other book,  Labor Day,  to this one.

I was saddened to find out what happened to Patty but I don't want to spoil it for you if you decide to read this book.

The ending was well done but again, a bit too far fetched for me.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 7.


Susanne said...

You sure have been getting lots of reading in this year already! I'm quite a bit behind in numbers of books read from this time last year. Not sure why that is.

Deb said...

I do love your book reviews. Like you, I watch very little TV, although Downton Abbey is my fave. I read much more when the TV is off and love that, but I'm not up to 30 books yet, although I will be there and hopefully more by year's end. Enjoy the week ahead!

Melanie Lopata said...

This sounds like a neat book, I may add it to my list :) I read a TON and hardly watch tv at all except for my Drop Dead Diva on Netflix :)