Book Review: Copycat by Alex Lake

09.02.2017

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @zaralibrary

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Category: Fiction
Author: Alex Lake
Format: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), 416 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-0082-4026-4
Pub Date: September 5, 2017

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Summary from Publisher:

The gripping new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of After Anna and Killing Kate. Imitation is the most terrifying form of flattery. Which Sarah Havenant is you? When an old friend gets in touch, Sarah Havenant discovers that there are two Facebook profiles in her name. One is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Photos of her friends, her husband, her kids. Photos from the day before. Photos of her new kitchen. Photos taken inside her house. And this is just the beginning. Because whoever has set up the second profile has been waiting for Sarah to find it. And now that she has, her life will no longer be her own.

  • From Chapters-Indigo website

Book Review:

The novel, Copycat, by Alex Lake begins with a taunting Facebook account impersonation of the book’s victim, Sarah Havenant, a wife, mother, and medical practitioner, whose life eventually careens into a nightmare catalyzed by her unknown abuser through fraudulent emails, texts, and communications on her behalf, which not only debilitate her, but confuse and bewilder her family and friends.

The narrative includes her heightened anxiety and growing frustration and fear, her husband’s growing doubt of her sanity and emotional well-being, as well as her abuser’s anger and personal vendetta to eventually “destroy” her.

This leaves the plot with its primary function: plant the seeds of hidden hints as to who might be the culprit in the book. Is it a stalker? An old flame? An ex-lover? A disgruntled stranger who happens to have nothing better to do than to victimize a random person simply because he/she can?

With a character who seems well-adjusted to the fabric and privilege of her own life and those in it, she’s blessed with a well-established, loyal, and loving husband; three young and healthy children; a stable and prestigious career; and several friends who foster a social climate that says she’s well-liked, and because of this, it can be difficult to propose who the potential abuser might be.

The antics aren’t extraordinary, but delve so far as to be able to forge Sarah Havenant’s own handwriting, which prove to be a sour point in solidifying an outside culprit, and only seems to bewilder her husband and friends into questioning her innocence, if not her own mental health.

Still, as the reader goes further into the novel, the hints themselves lean toward larger signs pointing to the potential copycat in the story—the reader only need to read and trust his/her instincts at who might be the possible suspect, which reveals itself not in the end, but as early as the last three-quarters of the book.

The story then, isn’t as much about “who” is the culprit, but rather, “why” and “where” does all this anger and hate stem from? What has made Sarah Havenant the chosen victim of her abuser? And what in the heck did Sarah Havenant do to deserve her victimization in the first place?

From there, the novel moves quickly to a state of torture, one that is uncreative, but stereotypical; sad, but not entirely moving. The fault here might be largely due to the reader’s lack of empathy towards the main character, Sarah Havenant. There isn’t enough time, nor a stylistically written narrative to make the reader emotionally invested in the main character to genuinely care for her well-being by the end of the novel.

Also, while the novel took its time in flushing out Sarah Havenant’s story and palpable suspects in the plot, the same pacing wasn’t used by the end of the book—it simply rushed itself to its inevitable end, as if to quickly stitch a gashing wound with nothing more than what was on-hand.

But, as most books follow the trade of its mystery-thriller genre, the reader can and will be compelled to read to the end to discover the answer to its whodunnit formula.

Copycat is a novel, though not extraordinarily written, will speak to the technological crisis that opens our lives to the fraudulent dangers of social media and the lurking possibility of how easily life can be manipulated if wrought by past misdeeds, a vigilant will, and a good plan.

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Characters: 3 stars
Plot: 3 stars
Language/Narrative: 2.5 stars
Dialogue: 2.5 stars
Pacing: 2.5 stars
Cover Design: 2.5 stars

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Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to HarperCollins Canada for providing me with an advanced reading copy (ARC) of Copy Cat by Alex Lake in exchange for an honest and timely review.

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About the Author:

Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna, the author’s first novel written under this pseudonym, was a No.1 bestselling ebook sensation and a top-ten Sunday Times bestseller. The author now lives in the North East of the US.

  • From HarperCollins Publishers website

Links:

You can connect with Alex Lake on Twitter.

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Zara

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Book Review: Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

06.14.2017

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @zaralibrary

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Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

Author: Haylen Beck

Format: E-book via NetGalley, 304 pages

Publisher: Crown Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-4514-9957-8

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

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Summary from Publisher:

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

  • From NetGalley

Book Review:

When I delved into the novel, Here and Gone, I had done so, blindly—without any preconceptions of the book. I hadn’t even bothered to read the description provided by its publisher that’s usually found on its back cover or book jacket. In this case, I simply flipped to the first page and began reading.

It was at first an uncomfortable read for me on a personal level because its main character, like me, have two children: a young son and an even younger daughter. My own son and my own daughter are ironically the same ages as the two children characters in the book—and they were abducted.

Not only were these children, Sean and Louise, abducted, it’s the nature of who had committed the crime that makes the storyline particularly infuriating. As you read on (or if you read the book description before deciding to read the book itself), you’ll angrily discover that the heinous crime of abducting innocent children is committed by corrupt police deputies: a resentful, masochistic Chief Deputy Whiteside and his subordinate, Deputy Collins.

At the center of this chaos, is Audra Kinney, a woman with a past tainted with drugs and alcohol, who, after a serious episode that leaves her hospitalized, finally decides to flee her abusive husband to emancipate herself and raise her children on her own—and safely.

But, before they can get to their destination, Audra is stopped by police and arrested for drug charges, while she is assured her children will be kept safe in the care of another officer. The last she sees of her children is in the back of a police cruiser as it drives away—before she realizes later that they are in danger.

The turn of events moves quickly, almost as pre-meditated as the crime itself in the book. It is a show-and-tell of stereotypical characters: the masochistic gruff of a hard man whose villainy is steeled by cruelty and greed; the uncertain, yet obedient conspirator; the victim whose difficult past makes it even more difficult for authorities to believe her claims; and the children, who by no fault of their own, are the unlucky inheritors of ill-timing and ill fate.

As most crime thrillers aren’t character-driven narratives, but fuel their readers’ interest in the ever-urgent drive to know what is going to happen next, the constant question of Where are the children? What did Whiteside and Collins do with them? And are these corrupt fanatics really going to get away with this? —continually to run through the reader’s mind.

But, there are secondary characters, too, to add a little sub-plot in the story by the means of a character named Danny Lee, a man known by others as Knife-Man. Mrs. Gerber, an unsuspecting host of the small town’s inn, too, has her own burdens. They, like the recluse, John Tandy, are welcome secondary characters to a tense, but hopeful and almost predictable plot.

The story is simple as it is exaggerated, a narrative more similar and perhaps more suited to a screenplay of an action film than to a fiction novel—but readers will want to read to the end, if only to know its conclusion: Where are the children? Will they escape? And will those who abducted them get away with it?

While the ingredients of the crime story are present in this novel, the substance of the novel, and even its level of entertainment, enjoyment, or nail-biting suspense, is unfortunately more indicative of its title: Here—and Gone.

***

Characters: 2.5 stars

Plot: 3 stars

Language/Narrative: 2.5 stars

Dialogue: 3 stars

Pacing: 3 stars

Cover Design: 3 stars

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Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with an e-copy of the book, Here and Gone by Haylen Beck through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and timely review.

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About the Author:

 

author - haylen beck
(c) Ollie Grove, from Penguin Random House website.

 

Haylen Beck is the pseudonym of an acclaimed, Edgar-nominated author whose crime fiction has won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and made best-of-year lists with numerous publications including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

  • From Penguin Random House website

Links:

You may contact Haylen Beck through his official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Zara

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