I’m a big fan of US writer Lisa Unger, and have mentioned before that I saw her speak at a Writers’ Festival a decade or so ago. However, I’ve struggled with her most recent books – a kinda connected series – which have dipped into the supernatural. I’ve still read them, but not enjoyed them as much as it’s not a genre this logic-loving crime / suspense fiction fan reads.
I was happy then, to hear of a new standalone thriller.
The Red Hunter
by Lisa Unger
Published by Touchstone
on May 1st 2017
Source: NetGalley, Simon & Schuster
Genres: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 1501101676, 9781471150517
Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her.
Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.
For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.
Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house.
As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.
This is certainly more the Lisa Unger I’ve come to know and love and I was ‘forced’ to finish this book in a sitting.
It’s very much the intersection of two stories…. but it’s the nascent of one that ultimately brings them together in a Bermuda Triangle-like scenario.
I adored (who I thought of as) our three leads: Claudia, Raven and Zoey. We’re also in Josh’s head… a local handyman Claudia uses on her property and I expected romance to follow, but Unger doesn’t really allow us to become overly entrenched in his mind / thinking…. and we later learn why, as he’s hiding some secrets.
Unlike Claudia however, who overshares in her blog and has always told Raven she could be either: her beloved father’s daughter; or that of a man who raped Claudia 16yrs earlier. I couldn’t help but think that was a bit fucked up… telling your child that AND writing about it openly in public blog posts.
Claudia’s life is pretty much an open book. Originally she kept her post-rape and pregnancy blog private, before embarking on the renovation of the farmhouse, which she is sharing with the world…. along with her own history.
Raven was a great character. Rebelling against school and society in general when we meet her, we quickly learn she’s a good kid and amazingly mature beyond her 15 years but also a bit screwy. And I suspect wondering if your father was a convicted serial rapist will do that to you!
And then there’s Zoey and Unger slowly unpicks her family history and the tragedy she suffered at a young age.
I have never left fear behind me, nor should we, but I have conquered it. p 87
It’s really only the ‘place’ and its history that brings the three women together and I think I expected a greater intersection. It’s not the case and Unger doesn’t belabour their eventual meeting. Claudia and Raven are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Zoey just happens to have returned. At the right time.
Of course – as the backcover blurb suggests – this book is centred around the concepts of justice vs revenge, particularly for Zoey who believes vengeance is the only answer.
It’s also about relationships and the ability to forgive and forget. Claudia’s moved on from the past, but her daughter is stuck there… with questions; and there’s this, from Zoey…
In our touchy-feely culture, there’s a lot of talk about forgiveness, a commonly held belief that the nurturing of hatred and anger is a toxin. No one ever tells you that it can be an engine, that it can keep you alive. p 95
I very much enjoyed this new thriller by Unger and adored the three strong women she offers up in this outing.
The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster on 1 May 2017.