Digital Reads Reviews

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Behind Closed Doors by Carol Wyer

Digital Reads Reviews is a blog-haven for book posts and reviews. This is a review of a suspenseful thriller, Behind Closed Doors.

Publication Date: December 2022

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Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?

When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…

Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom—she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.

Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.

But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?

My Review

What was it all about

Behind Closed Doors by Carol Wyer was all about a kidnapped teen that resembled what had happened to the main character decades ago. I had enjoyed Carol’s police procedurals earlier, even more her earlier works than the Kate Young series. When I heard she was out with a standalone psychological thriller, I had to check it out. 

The paperback took some time to reach me, and it was not in the most pristine condition, but I could read it. I wish there were some good thrift shops or libraries here when the book reaches me slightly out of shape. Having slept on it, hoping to straighten the cover, I began reading it. 

Quite intriguing was the beginning, I had to say. The book was about a missing teen, who apparently had been kidnapped, with the kidnapper demanding his ransom. When Stacey’s ex-husband approached her wanting help with his daughter’s disappearance, she couldn’t refuse since she had always shared a close bond with her stepdaughter. 

Being an investigative journalist, she began searching for clues. As the case progressed, she realized it was quite similar to her own childhood where she had been kidnapped and tortured. And it was only by fluke that led to her being saved. She had suppressed that memory which came out as cinematic flashes as she tried solving this case.  

The Hook

Trigger Warnings: There is some amount of body mutilation and torture that was gruesome to read, but I liked that the author didn’t take a step back to coat it with euphemisms. 

Trying to don the detective hat and solving the kidnapping before Stacey could get to the perp was the best hook to keep me right down into the pages. 

Having read many of this author’s books, I would say comparisons were bound to come about. I found this book to be slightly lacking in intrigue in the second half. The story missed its sharpness that I associated with a Carol Wyer book, especially in the last few chapters.

But the first half kept me well hooked into the story with bits of information about the main character’s personal life too. The author managed to keep the perp well hidden, but with only a few characters, it would be easy to guess. 

I deliberately chose to sink into the words of the book rather than analyze the plot line. And I am sure you can get to the kidnapper easily.

The Characters

I liked the main character Stacey. She had the gumption to help a father out even when they were no longer together. But she stuck to her principles in the story. Her love for the kidnapped stepdaughter was well evident in her actions. 

A few things felt a bit off. The return of her memory in flashes felt a bit too convenient. She could have easily guessed the perp. The same incident happening twice in the space of decades should have had her antenna zinging. 

I hated all the rest of the characters, including her exes. Only the old policewoman who had saved her in her teens felt to be nice.

The Intricacies

The plot line felt to be slightly exaggerated. There was nothing much happening in the book. In the initial section where Stacey’s instincts were zapping around, it was fun. Then it kinda became mundane. And I was like – yes, yes, got that. Now move on with it. 

I liked that it was not a police procedural, so this had to be grueling footwork to try to work out the clues. But some things felt to be made too evident in their discussions, almost as if the book was pointing me toward the perp. 

The ending was quite satisfactory and I was quite happy. But the midsection was…

Too long. Too slow. Too small the suspect list. 

The Setting

I would have liked more atmosphere of impending danger to emanate from the book. All the 300+ pages didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. Something that could cause my heart rate to spike was missing. Don’t get me wrong. I liked the book, and it was a fun read. But it could also be read by skimming through some of the pages. 

The Pace

For me, the last few pages were good, but the mid-section lost its steam and made me want to turn pages faster. A couple of times I was tempted to just skip chapters and get to the last few. And believe me, I wouldn’t have missed anything. 

It recovered its momentum, but by that time, my interest in it was diluted. Not a good deal was that, was it?

The style of writing - The Prose

I had always liked the author’s style of writing in the first two series of police procedurals. But she started writing longer prose with the Kate Young series, which was boring. This book too stood with the Kate Young series. Frankly speaking, I wouldn’t want to invest my hard-earned money and get the book imported in the next book if this book was made into a series.  

Narrating the story via the main character, I felt the author had lost her strong voice which often led to a compelling tale of intrigue and suspense.

How it made me feel

I liked the book, but it was not memorable. Certainly wouldn’t buy another book by this author this year, unless I got to hear great things from readers other than her usual followers. And rereading this book was beyond me, because I was sure I would find all the faults that I didn’t with the first read. 

I hoped the author would review her first two series and compare the writing with this one. And probably get her books back to her older style of keeping the readers on the edge of the seat with the next book. 

It was a good book, just not a great book. Maybe a different kind of thriller could be tried, one that didn’t rest on the laurels of the older police procedural

Do I recommend this book?

I would just say at the end: Don’t do what I did. Read it free on Kindle Unlimited. Don’t go with heightened expectations. Then you might just enjoy the book and not regret the money spent on buying it. 

I got the paperback version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.

If you’ve loved the review, buy me a cuppa to perk me up.

And thank you for this shot of caffeine when you do…

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