After Caroline, by Kay Hooper

>> Thursday, September 16, 2004

Before she started going in a more "suspens-ey" direction, Kay Hooper wrote a few almost-gothic mysteries. I read Finding Laura some years ago, and really enjoyed it. I got all the others, and the first I read was After Caroline.

Two women who look enough alike to be twins. Both involved in car wrecks at the same time. One survives. One doesn't.

Now, plagued by a bewildering connection to a woman she never knew, driven by an urgent compulsion she doesn't understand, Joanna Flynn travels three thousand miles across the country to the picturesque town where Caroline McKenna lived -- and mysteriously died. There Joanna will run into a solid wall of suspicion as she searches for the truth: Was Caroline's death an accident? Or was she the target of a killer willing to kill again?
The mystery aspect of After Caroline was much stronger than its romance side. This balanced out to make it just an ok read: B-.

The mystery in this very gothic tale was fascinating. I was baffled until the end, and very interested in what had happened. The author didn't play completely fair, though, since the one clue as to who the villain was came very late. I caught it, but it was only a while before everything came out. I much prefer it when I can think back on things happenning near the beginning of the book, things that have a significance which I can only see now, and think "I should have known".

The book starts with a bang, (literally!) with the accident and Joanna's increasing realization of what is happening to her. However, I'm afraid it has a bit of a sagging middle. I actually tend to prefer books with a slower pace to breakneck action, but this one was a bit too much, too easy to leave the book aside for a while.

The romance was the weakest part of the book. It's not that there wasn't enough... three couples we've got here! But, unfortunately, no chemistry, none at all, especially between the main protagonists. I simply couldn't get interested in them.

Not a bad way to spend a few hours, but not a book to get excited about, either.


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