Short Take: “Die For You,” Lisa Unger

Pros: Quite a few interesting characters
Cons: Isabel is stupidly stubborn
Rating: 3 out of 5

Lisa Unger’s Die for You follows a writer, Isabel, and the disappearance of her husband, Marcus Raine. However, the farther she heads down that rabbit hole, the more she realizes that she’s been tricked by the man she loved. He seems to be a dangerous con man, with people who are happy to hunt down Isabel in order to find him. He’s taken not just all of her money, but money their brother-in-law Erik gave Marcus to invest in a computer game Marcus claimed to be creating. (Isabel’s sister Linda is hardly thrilled, especially considering Erik didn’t tell her he was doing it.) Isabel’s old friend Jack lets her drag him into her crazy life.

 

The author seems to love amnesia or partial amnesia stories, people who aren’t what they seem, concussions (her characters excel at falling unconscious), and overly-trusting and -stubborn female protagonists. That latter part in particular I’d like to see change a bit. I get that characters sometimes need to be stubborn in order to keep them from giving up on particularly dangerous plots. But if it gets used too often, it becomes a cheap fix–and it starts to feel implausible. Especially when the stubbornness is so exaggerated that the reader can’t empathize with it, or that it makes the character seem stupid. Some of the characters are quite interesting and there are several affairs going on. My favorite part is that Marcus didn’t get mysteriously tamed by being with Isabel some time. He’s quite dangerous and has a whole lot going for him.

You can see how messed up Izzy gets:

[Jack had] come simply to hold my hand, then pick up the pieces and carry them all home. I made the decision right then and there to ditch him as soon as possible.

No wonder she fell for a con-man’s game if she’s willing to throw decent people who are trying to help her to the wind.

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