An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
By: Jennifer Jaynes
Publisher: Amazon/Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 1/27/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Amazon Publishing, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
NEVER SMILE AT STRANGERS, by Jennifer Jaynes, a riveting dark southern debut suspense psychological, mystery thriller of small town secrets.
Set in a small southern town of Trespass, Louisiana, a young woman turns up missing; however, could there be many more? The town was so small it was little more than a post office, filling station, ponds, diner, tackle shop, church, general store, and a RC Cola billboard. You could only hope to escape this small town for a better life.
Everyone has a secret; there is tragedy, evil, darkness, anger, mental illness, betrayal, obsession, incest, a mysterious crush, guilt, suicide, murder. Where did it all start, as the bodies continue to go missing?
As the book opens we meet a boy, standing outside his mother’s bedroom door, but there was blood, lightning and his mother naked in the yard, eyes wild. Now an angry boy turns into a man, who has to care for his sister. Is he just a normal guy living in town hiding behind a façade, who tries to be normal?
We then jump to ten years later, we meet an array of characters (get out your score card to keep up):
Nineteen year old Haley had dreams, they all want to escape this town of Grand Trespass. Her boyfriend is Mac. Her father was killed in an accident seven months earlier. Tiffany was encouraging her to get out more. Then there is her younger fifteen year old sister, Becky and her friend.
Tiffany is dating a black guy, Charles, who is infatuated with her. Tiffany was also having an affair with Tom, a professor. Haley is not thrilled with the way Tiffany treats guys. Haley knows she lies and hard to keep track. Tiffany has a secret crush. Tiffany and Charles go missing. Her mother had forbidden Tiffany from dating Charles.
Erica, a loner and recluse-- nineteen year old aspiring writer befriends Haley. Haley finds Erica beautiful and mysterious. Ten years earlier her mom abandoned her to escape this town. She had left Erica the person who loved her most. Why hadn’t she taken her along? Now she decides to write a novel based on Tiffany’s disappearance – to connect with her novelist mother. If she made her mom proud, she would have to love her.
Rachel is a thirty-six mother of two, whose professor husband, Tom had an affair with Tiffany and the entire town knows about it. Then there is Chris, who owns Luke’s Diner, who’s daughter Anne died two years earlier in a drowning accident. Kim, a bully and Chris’ manager, and Austin, the diner’s cook.
In a town of boredom, mistrust, rampant alcoholism and malaise, there is also evil –murder, dysfunction, and some occurring decades earlier with multiple homicides. Who is the killer and what is his, or her next move as the count comes to thirteen. How do they connect?
Never Smile at Strangers is dark, twisted, and chilling; the suspense high with twists and turns, keeping you guessing, when things are not as they appear.
Looking forward to reading Ugly Young Thing, coming March 3, 2015, as we continue the saga of sixteen-year-old Allie. She has already experienced a lifetime of horror, having lost her mother and serial killer brother to mental illness- now her new life takes a devastating turn.