Lizzie Carter's husband Zack Hopkins died a year ago and she's still not over it. Boy, is she really not over it. On the anniversary of his death, she goes to put flowers at his grave, only to find a bunch of flowers already there, a note revealing that someone called Xenia left them for him. Lizzie has no idea who Xenia might be.
Shortly before Zack's death, Lizzie left him a letter at his apartment saying she was leaving him. When she finally works up the courage to visit the flat, she finds that the letter has been opened and read; she'd always assumed he'd died before getting a chance to read it. These two occurrences convince her that Zack faked his death, is still alive, and out to harm her.
This took me nearly two weeks to read. It was very difficult to get into. Most of this was due to the main character of Lizzie. I understand the book was being told from the point-of-view of a woman who had been in an abusive marriage, but Lizzie's unrelenting weakness really wore me out. This woman's complete inability to pull herself together and do one simple thing without falling apart was annoying to the extreme. Once again, I understand this is probably a highly accurate portrayal of a woman who has been controlled and abused by her husband, if only for a couple of years, but it was a joyless experience seeing life through her timid eyes.
It just made her look stupid. And it didn't make sense that the police didn't fully inform her about the circumstances of her husband's death. The book tries to chalk it up to the incompetence of the family liaison officer assigned to her, but I call bullshit. I never believed that Lizzie could have been left in the dark to such an extent that she would believe her husband would fake her death. She bitches endlessly about her friends and family not believing her, but come on, Lizzie! Grow a brain - and maybe a spine too - and see your pathetic ramblings for what they are! I was never once convinced throughout the duration of the book that Zack was still alive. I got that Lizzie was an unstable, over-emotional wreck with lousy decision-making skills, but not sold on anything else.
The chapters from Zack's point of view, in the past, were effective. It provided us with a much clearer picture of the abusive manner in which he treated Lizzie. (When we're in Lizzie's head, it's just constant fluttering about how perfect he was). It was a pretty good portrayal of a sociopath. He was a horrible person, of course, but he was far more believable and interesting than wet-rag Lizzie.
Note: if you're a dog-lover, beware. Although the dog doesn't die, he is horribly mistreated by the plethora of sociopaths populating the novel. My puppy Denny was on the bed beside me while I read and I had to keep putting the book down so I could go over and hug her.
If you can get past the utterly tedious first 70 pages or so, this settles into a fairly standard psychological thriller, with some mild intrigue, but is largely predictable once all the major players are introduced and interacting with one another. It's main letdown is its frustrating main character. Yes, her personality makes sense, but it wasn't any fun to read about.