REVIEW: A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: psychological thriller, female protagonist, family drama, dark past, twists and turns

Quick Review: Subtly paced and completely engrossing, this is a read that will keep you hooked to the end.

***

Sixteen years ago, child psychologist Kate Wolfe’s young sister Savannah was brutally murdered. Forced to live with the guilt of how her own selfishness put Savannah in harm’s way, Kate was at least comforted by the knowledge that the man responsible was on death row. But when she meets a retired detective who is certain that Kate’s sister was only one of many victims of a serial killer, Kate must decide whether she can face the possibility that Savannah’s murderer walks free. As she unearths disturbing family secrets in her search for the truth, she becomes sure that she has uncovered the depraved mind responsible for so much death. But as she hunts for a killer, a killer is hunting her…

A BREATH AFTER DROWNING is a stand-alone novel by accomplished writer Alice Blanchard (click here for a guest post from Alice). The novel follows Dr. Kate Wolfe as everything she thought she knew about her family and her sister’s murder gets turned upside down.

I won’t give away any more plot details, as this novel is far too well-constructed to spoil. However, Blanchard does a fantastic job of creating enough twists, turns, red herrings and ambiguous clues that this novel will keep you guessing right until the killer is revealed. Like other great novels, however, you believe the entire time that you know who it is (but you keep being proven wrong)!

Part of that effect comes from the superb pacing of the story. Subtly, Blanchard ratchets up the tension in tiny increments, from an exquisite slow burn that fills you with dread, to a furiously fast pace that rivals that of action thrillers. However the shift is so gradual that you don’t notice it happening until you are frantically turning pages at the end! Blanchard has done a masterful job handling this aspect of the novel.

She has also written an incredibly strong and nuanced protagonist in Dr. Kate Wolfe. While this novel is not particularly character-focussed, Blanchard has captured both the strength of Dr. Wolfe and her vulnerability. This makes her a particularly appealing, human character to follow on her journey into the secrets of her past.

A BREATH AFTER DROWNING goes from strength to strength and is well worth a read if you are a fan of well-constructed, beautifully paced psychological thrillers!

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