Friday, April 23, 2010

The Stone Forest - Karen Harper

Stone County, Indiana - a stunning landscape of rock quarries, caves and underground rivers - is a place of unique beauty . . . and a place marked by an unsolved tragedy.One warm night sixteen years ago, sisters Jenna and Amanda Kirk disappeared. Days later, Jenna was found wandering alone, with no memory of what happened . . . and no knowledge of her sister's fate.While the girls' mother spun the tragedy into political victory by becoming the state's first female lieutenant governor, Jenna became overwhelmed by nightmares and guilt. Now, desperate to uncover the truth about what happened that night, Jenna returns to Stone County.

But the family's Victorian home seems more of a haunting ground than a haven as Jenna begins to suspect someone is trying to frighten her away.To hurt her. And as memories begin to surface, Jenna is gripped by a growing fear about the place and about the people closest to her.

Because the labyrinthine caves of her childhood are hiding old secrets . . . dangerous, deadly secrets.And Jenna must face her own darkest terrors to expose a legacy of murder carved in stone.
I have read Harper before in the HF genre. This is my first mystery by her. Although marketed as romantic suspense there's not much romance in it and to tell the truth not that much suspense either.

Jenna is a young woman haunted by the disappearance of her big sister a few years back. They were both kidnapped, a ransom was asked for but never paid and Jenna was the only one returned. She has no memory of the events as her doctor keeps telling her to forget and move on but she continues to live in the same place where the events happened. Her mother declared her sister dead and moved on to become a successful politician and she keeps insisting that Jenna moves out of the place where she lives so she can move on too. She resists moving but then she starts getting weird packages in the mail and phone calls with her sister's voice which seems to suggest that Mandi is not dead or someone wants to scare Jenna. At the same time Mace, Mandi's boyfriend at the time of the kidnapping for whom Jenna had a big crush, returns and his sister, Jenna’s best friend, starts investigating her mother's life to write a biography.

I thought this story had interesting potential but the truth is that it fell short from fulfilling my expectations. First of all I couldn't see how Jenna was still in love with Mace after so much time and why he suddenly decided he was in love with her too. Then I had an idea early on about who the kidnapper could be and it turns out that I was right even if in the middle I was second guessing my hunch. The death of Mace's mother and Jenna's father seemed at first to have some meaning but then it's never developed and the fact is that there wasn't much going on. There wasn't much suspense and the motive for the kidnapping didn't seem very solid. After reading a few fast paced page turners in this genre earlier this week this was a total let down for me in terms of suspense and a solid plot.

Grade 2/5

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