By: A.J. Banner
Publication Date: 12/27/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
A.J. Banner returns following The Good Neighbor, with the powerfully evocative THE TWILIGHT WIFE —an intricate conundrum, a modern-age twisty domestic psychological mystery suspense puzzle of lies, secrets, deception and an intriguing past.
A heart-pounding adventure of one woman's desperate search for answers. Uncovering the truth about those we love. A story, the past, an obsession, a forgotten identity, and pieces of memories- just out of reach.
Kyra Winthrop is recovering from a harrowing diving accident. Her memory is still cluttered, and foggy. Her doting husband, Jacob, recounts her past to her, filling in the gaps left by an unusual form of memory loss.
When Kyra begins to remember details that don’t align with what she knows to be true, she must fight through her hazy memory, her isolation, and her own suspicions to discover what—and whom—she can trust.
What happened on the fateful dive on which a woman loses her memory and her life? She is desperate to learn the truth. Where nothing is as it seems. A constant state of perplexity and confusion. Lies, deception, and dark secrets are revealed slowly as the threads are unraveled.
Kyra is a thirty-four-year-old marine biologist currently recovering from a head injury. She taught at the Seattle University previously they say, and yet she has no memory of those times. Now she has only this secluded Mystic Island in the Pacific Northwest, where the wind blows in cold from the sea.
She has a husband, Jacob who sticks close by her side, follows her everywhere, her guardian angel. She also has a peculiar recurring dream. She fractured her skull in a diving accident near Deception Pass. The waters are supposedly gorgeous, but deadly.
The island haunts her, but she has no conscious memory of the area. Just like water, and things of the sea; they can be dangerous, but beautiful.
She has no memory of her decision to move here. Nor does she recognize the jagged scar on her right thumb, (from a dive) per her husband, Jacob. She barely even remembers her husband. Why does she forget only the four years she missed?
They say her name is Kyra Winthrop (she dropped her maiden name Munin). She has been married to Jacob for nearly three years. Who is this man? How did she end up here?
She is only a shadow of her former self. When she stops taking the meds to clear her mind, she begins a computer search. Jacob was a computer genius educated at MIT and founded his own software company. What else will she find? She had to keep things secret until she solves the mysteries of her past. She is grasping at any clue or person she can find, for answers.
Who is Aiden Finlay? She feels there is someone else. Her husband’s friend? She is disoriented. Does she have repressed memories? Could something bad have happened? Traumatic? Another diver?
What if her brain is choosing to block out not trauma, but something else altogether? Can she believe Jacob? She questions her marriage. What secrets is her husband hiding? Was there another man? What about Jacob’s past?
From fuzziness, the fog, to dreaming of a yellow house; where nothing is as it appears. From constant confusion, Kara sees herself kissing Aiden one minute and Jacob the next. Was there a third diver?
The more she learns, she becomes afraid for her life, and she had to figure a way out of this madness – a dark nagging cloud of doubt. What was Jacob holding back? A trail of cryptic clues, and a computer genius husband, who is holding all the cards.
Piece by piece, everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. Who can she trust? Why is Jacob lying to her? Who is this other man who thinks she looks like someone else? She wants her own grasp of memories, not what her husband has told her. She feels something is missing.
“I feel as though my memories stop short, before the storm, at the edge of a precipice leading down into darkness.”
In trying to make sense of her world, Kyra learns about anterograde amnesia (difficulty storing new memories) and retrograde amnesia (difficulty retrieving old ones).
She begins explores the island, in search for answers to evoke memories—seashells, the contents of her purse, photographs, and the local shops, the B&B inn, and coastal tide pools. (loved this part, which keeps your senses on high alert). In addition, she seeks out everyone she can to help her find answers.
A frighteningly cool portrait of a serious sadist, THE TWILIGHT WIFE is a gripping, claustrophobia-inducing thriller. Looks are deceiving. The most dangerous kind. Utterly compelling exploration through the darker side of the human psyche.
Banner creates a strong sense of ambiguity, darkness, confusion with a constant state of obscurity, a perplexing mystery, and an intriguing haunting puzzle.
Jacob and Kyra are both fascinating mysteries, and Banner knows how to maintain the tension from the first page to the last twisty turn. A nice addition with the secondary characters: Van and Nancy, as well as Doug (enjoyed his connection).
As a reader, you do not know who to trust, and who is dangerous. Compellingly hypnotic with a spellbinding seaside remote setting, adding to the ongoing strong sense of foreboding and mystery, combined with beautiful lyrical prose, well researched, and fascinating sea life, making this an absorbing read.
For fans of Kate Moretti, Kimberly S. Belle, Mary Kubica, Susan Crawford, and BA Paris. Looking forward to the next!
I also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, my Top 2016 Audio Narrator for a mesmerizing performance! She has an ideal voice for the role, with her soothing voice to transport you.
Ideal for book clubs or discussions. Would make a great movie!
A special thank you to Touchstone & NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A Conversation with A. J. Banner "What significance does the title hold to the narrative?"
"The word twilight suggests falling away into darkness, the strange, dreamlike in-between time, when day isn’t quite finished and night hasn’t quite begun. Kyra hovers in that limbo, not entirely herself without her memory and plunging into a terrifying night as her life unravels.
However, she also finds beauty and hope in twilight. She remembers magical nights, when she walked the beach and discovered unusual marine species beneath the moonlight. And night always becomes day again. Darkness leads to dawn. She discovers her own inner strength and reclaims her life."
OUTSTANDING! Following John Grisham’s great intro prequel, Witness to a Trial, a perfect set up to the highly anticipated, THE WHISTLER —What is not to LOVE?
• First and foremost, the “King” of modern legal thrillers. Grisham is back full throttle! 29 books #1 bestsellers
• Indian Casinos: Unregulated, lots of cash and plenty who want a piece of it: Treasure Key, Florida Panhandle near Pensacola
• A Whistle-blower: Love them! Exposing the unethical and powerful. Always danger and intrigue. Who is The Whistler?
• Setting: State of Florida My Sunshine State
• Lacy Stoltz: Age 36, Single, sexy, smart strong female investigative lead for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct
• Hugo Hatch: Male investigator partner: Funny, family man, former football star, married to Verna; 4 children,
• Themes: Corruption, Murder, Bribery, Gambling, Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Racketeering/RICO; Legal, Suspense, Humor, Crime; a little Romance
• Honorable Claudia McDover: Age 56, The most female corrupt judge in America
• The Coast Mafia: Always a clever name for the bad guys
• Vonn Dubose: Ubervillain Mob Kingpin Gangster
• Greg Myers: Codename, "Randy." (formerly Ramsey Mix) Lawyer, ex-con, a Jimmy Buffet type who lives on a boat, with one client. Reminds me of TV Series/Amazon Trial/Goliath Billy McBride (Billy Bob Thornton).
• Last, but not least: Audiobook Narrator: Cassandra Campbell:Award-winning performance! She is without a doubt my favorite narrator with a wide range of voices. Top Audio Performance of 2016. Listen PRH Audio.
From the State of Florida, the book takes us from the coast: East, west, north, south, to the Florida Keys.
Picking up from Witness to a Trial, where we saw an innocent man convicted, a murder, a corrupt judge, a casino, and tribal land, as we move to the opening of THE WHISTLER, when a complaint is filed with the Florida Board Judicial Conduct in Tallahassee, Florida.
Overseeing judicial ethics and assigned to the investigative case is Lacy Stoltz and Hugo Hatch. Lacy single, and Hugo married, they are a funny duo and friends both at work and outside work.
They are on a road trip from Tallahassee to the east coast in St. Augustine, FL to meet with the informant. He has one client, a mysterious whistle-blower. Their boss says this could be big.
However, Greg has a shady past, and they are not sure if he is on the good side, or bad. If they can trust him. He wants to meet them in a remote area near the Tappacola reservation late at night, adding to the mystery and suspense.
There is a corrupt judge and she is tied into the casino with her monthly cash bribes. Of course, they have to get the goods and all the players involved for proof. There are real estate developments, land, and golf courses tied to corruption, among off-shore holdings.
Claudia also has a partner and the two women are quite loaded and know how to travel in style (and shop). The novel, as well as the prequel, revolves around a tract of Native American land that has welcomed gambling and can operate outside the Florida law. Acting outside the law, indeed. In America, Indians don’t pay taxes on casino profits. The Tappacola didn’t want to share.
To make things more interesting, the small Tappacola tribe has welcomed a group of mobsters, known as the Coast Mafia, to indulge in unlimited development in tribal land in exchange for a share of the casino’s profits.
Of course, anytime there is corruption, bribery, and coverups, the villains have to maintain their secret. Anyone coming close to the truth, they have the need to eliminate and coverup. Hence, the identity of a whistle-blower needs to be protected.
However, Lacy and Hugo have no idea how far this corruption goes, the elaborate crime scheme and conspiracy, and the danger they are placed in- the more they dive into the investigation. They do not even carry guns. Who knew their job would be so dangerous?
There is murder, and the Native American on death row, a gangster having anyone killed who gets in the way, and a crooked judge who looks the other way, keeping her hand out for monthly cash.
A high-stakes legal crime thriller of good versus evil, with a well-developed cast of characters. We get to see the down and dirty, greedy, rich getting richer, and eliminating anyone who gets in their way. An unfair judicial system portrayed brilliantly.
When the FBI get involved, Lacy has a little romance with one of the agents, even though she is cautious. Grisham has more female leads in this novel than usual, which was a nice change. Of course, also included female leads in Gray Mountain, landing on my Top Books of 2014.
What a great book! I can see this one as a hot movie. Grisham takes on top topics and unravels the complex web of deceit. Wow, Claudia was cold and evil and she loved her money and power.
As a former Florida whistle-blower myself (SOX 2002), making history; the Sunshine state has their share of dirty officials, corporations, developers, and politicians, in real life as well as fiction. speaking from experience.
Lacy, the heroine is a great character, and hope we hear more from her in the future. Loved the cover, reminding me of my two years in Key Largo, where I worked and resided selling real estate at a waterfront condo hotel with a yacht club.
Grisham shines with THE WHISTLER! What interesting topics- from well-researched Indian casino operations, with all the intense legal drama and judicial corruption, and no one does it better!
Buy the audiobook , Grisham/Campbell, perfect duo for The Whistler, for my Top Books of 2016 List.
Inspired by a grandmother’s time in Paris, Eleanor Brown(Weird Sisters) eloquently transports readers in THE LIGHT OF PARIS -two generations of women-being true to oneself, a journey of self-discovery. Grabbing life and joy. Freedom.Having the heart and courage to be who we really are.
The audiobook, narrated by Cassanda Campbell (one of my favorite narrators), delivered an award-winning performance, a perfect voice for three generations of women. From food, art, culture, gardens, creativity, writing, romance, travel—ah, Paris, Awe-inspiring!
Two stories separated by time and space —1999, when Madeleine, a thirty-something, drifting, unhappily married Chicago woman, visits her aging, perfectionist mother in their small Southern hometown.
She discovers in an attic, the journals of her (secretive life) grandmother, Margie, who spent time in 1924 Paris Jazz Age-a world of freedom, art, and love- which changed her life. What happened to this life, the dreams, aspirations?
This is the life, Madeleine longs for. She never knew this grandmother. Madeleine and Maggie are very similar in many ways. Both generations have demands from family and told to put dreams aside. Obligations. They both did the same—things they swore they would not do. Learning from the past.
Present day: Madeline is miserable in her life. A controlling mother, who has pushed society, marriage, outward appearances, and traditions. Never a thought to one’s own desires.
Following in the steps of her mother, in a loveless marriage to Phillip-she finally has enough with her controlling husband. She never should have married him. She loves to paint and wants to explore things which she has put aside, to be someone else. Someone else’s expectations. Does she have to courage to do the unexpected?
Leaving her husband, she returns to her Southern hometown. She has to endure more critical negativity from her demanding mother. Her mother is appalled. No one divorced.
However, a light of hope. She discovers an old trunk in her mom’s attic, and is surprised by a grandmother’s secret past.
Her grandmother, Margie spent time in Paris, writing, a man, an artist, creativity, the dreams. Where did it all go wrong? Why was she not told about her grandmother’s past? How did her own mother come to be the way she is today?
Reading her grandmother’s journals was like reading her own thoughts. She wanted to connect with her and felt something was unfinished. She couldn’t explain why she never felt like she belonged. Could she possibly finish the life for her grandmother? Going abroad by herself signified a bravery she had not considered she possessed.
Can Madeline find her own way? Away from social pedigrees? To dance, eat, travel, laugh, and paint. The what if? Closing your eyes and taking a step off a cliff. Risk versus security.
The promise of Paris and a future to own. Surrounded by people, food, art, friends, community. The possibilities. The unknown.
Thought-provoking: How do choices we make reverberate through generations? How are we influenced by those outside forces? Are children pawns in an endless chess game? Raised with expectations. Why do some siblings break free; while others continue along the same path as previous generations? Giving up happiness.
Carving out a space, a niche -finding the things that are important in life, rather than things forced upon us--from demands, duty, responsibility, money, family and society. Trying to live up to something others want. Expectations. Reality. Can you live your dream?
"A mother’s words, were a grandmother’s legacy of disappointment. The best a granddaughter can do is live in a way to possibly break the cycle."
A beautifully written story about the expectations people have for one another. In the process one woman discovers a critical bit of information about her own mother, changing everything she knew about her own mother-daughter relationship.
From Parisian delights, you will be ravenous rushing out for a French baguette, brie, wine Crème brûlée, and fresh berries, while booking a flight to Paris!
More than an hour in to this audiobook, I found that I was alternating between mean thoughts about the caricatures, um characters, and checking to see if I was any closer to being done so I could move on to a more interesting book. Maybe it gets better, but so far it's Driven Mr. Responsible discovers that Manic Pixie Dream Girl makes a lousy wife and mother. It's not terrible, just dull. Abandoned at 12%.
Audiobook version, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. Cassandra Campbell provides a competent but uninspired reading.