Anna Graves' whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she's just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late-night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she's attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby. But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna's story - until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the "Ophelia Killer", a serial killer who preyed on the town 20 years ago - and who abruptly stopped when Anna's father committed suicide. Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable if committed to save your child's life?
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Anna, a popular radio host of a regional network morning show, has just returned back to work from maternity leave. She is struggling to get used to the change and to the fact that her husband Guy left three months earlier. Things are going okay until one evening when Anna is taking her daughter Joni for an evening stroll along the beach, and is suddenly confronted by a seemingly out of it teen boy wielding a knife. Anna is able to defend herself and Joni using a sharp stick comb from her purse, but in doing so, fatally wounds the boy.
Self-defense is clear, and Anna must try to move on even though a very angry mob of people including the boy's mother and father start stalking her. For a while, the police protect her and public opinion goes in her favor.
But then the storyline strays into a morass of baseless assumptions, public overreactions, trumped up speculations of guilt, going so far as ruinous character assassinations and accusations of evil intentions akin to Satan's spawn. Anna's family members are a split jury, and those who arbitrarily decide she is guilty treat her with outright contempt, going so far as to hint to police that she might have a hidden motive. They make my family look like saints by comparison. Despite the fact that Anna had clearly acted in self-defense, and was not charged with a crime, her ex proclaims that HE wouldn't have killed to protect their child, so therefore, the baby would obviously be safer with him. When Anna receives very suspicious emails from an individual called "The Ophelia Killer," who had terrorized the town one summer ten years ago by murdering 5 teenage boys, she offers this evidence to the police, who tell her she shouldn't worry about it but they'll look at the emails if she wants them to. It's things like this that make you stop and wonder what backwards logic is going on in Anna's world- especially at the point where she has no one to turn to except for her Gran and the dead boy's diamond-in-the-rough ex-con brother, who just wants to help her out (again, suspend disbelief).
In that vein, the Ridgmont police come off as highly inept and lacking in basic investigative skills. The Ophelia Killer emails, and other evidence of possible wrongdoings going on in town that Anna tries to give the detectives, is either ignored or used against her for no apparent reason until she becomes a target of hysterical vigilante justice following the police hinting around that Anna herself just might have had a motive to kill that night, rather than straightforward self-defense. I will leave the rest for the reader to discover.
That said, the story kept me listening like crazy even as it drove me crazy. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I did have empathy for Anna but I wished she would get some backbone especially with that ass of an ex-husband.
There are twists that reveal themselves in the last third of the book that had me reeling and I loved every minute of it.
If the reader can put up with the illogical mess of random, baseless suspicions and accusations and public acts of violence that people stand and watch without jumping in to help her; and can overlook the utterly ridiculous roller coaster of crap propagated by the police, then the reader will be rewarded by an ultimately well written and entertaining psychological thriller. I will be interested in reading more of Tracy Buchanan's work and I do recommend "no Turning Back" as a good use of a credit.