"Broken Pieces," Carla Cassidy

Pros: Gets better and better as it goes, with a tear-jerker climax
Cons: Rough start, with some too-perfect characters and stilted writing
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Mariah Sayers fled the small town of Plains Point when she was just seventeen, escaping an abusive family and the aftermath of a brutal attack. Now that both of her parents have died, she’s returned with her teenaged daughter to set the house in order for sale. At first she enjoys the warmth of old friendships, the satisfaction of turning the old home into something beautiful, and even the sizzle of chemistry with the hot veterinarian who takes an interest in her. Then a terrible crime makes her realize that the man who attacked her not only isn’t gone, but may have been attacking, brutalizing, and even killing young women ever since she left. All Mariah wants to do is flee back to Chicago, but she might run out of time…


 

You know, you find so many odd things when you have to totally clear out most of your house for repairs. I suppose finding a review book so old that it came out before the other two Carla Cassidy books I’ve reviewed (Up Close and Personal and Last Gasp) really isn’t that weird, all things considered. Anyway, I loved those other two books so much that I had to immediately dig in to Broken Pieces.

One of the things I find fascinating about reading a number of books by one author is having the chance to see how an author’s style has changed and grown—or failed to do so. I’m always impressed when I see that an author’s earlier works weren’t nearly as smooth as their current ones, as odd as that sounds, because it means they were able to set aside their ego enough to realize they could improve their skills and set about doing so. That’s a tough thing to do with creative works. So when I say that Broken Pieces didn’t blow me away the way Cassidy’s other two books did, that isn’t an insult.

At first I was disappointed; the characters were too-perfect and lacked depth. There’s the too-good-to-be-true teen daughter who wants to play match-maker for her mother; the hottie love interest who adores animals; and the graceful and gracious main character who has handled everything with tremendous strength and dignity. I had trouble with the idea that one character who was referred to as street-smart would have allowed herself to be caught in a particular dangerous situation. The language and mannerisms also felt a bit stilted.

However, in roughly the last third or fourth of the book you can see the talent that becomes all the more evident in Cassidy’s later books. The building events brought out hidden depths in the characters, as if that’s when they finally took on a life of their own in the author’s mind. The language and character actions became much smoother. Plenty of suspects had been worked into the story, so although I had a good guess of who the bad guy was, I couldn’t be sure, and there was plenty of tension in how events worked out. (And yes, tears were shed. *sniffle*)

This isn’t the best of Cassidy’s books, but it is enjoyable. The beginning didn’t wow me, but by the end my opinion had gotten much higher. Now I want to go see if there are more recent books of hers I should be reading—as if I need any more books on my to-be-read stack!

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