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by Eileen Rendahl
Midnight Ink, December 2016
264 pages
ISBN: 0738750204

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Amanda has a lot to be paranoid about, so are recent events really part of a dangerous plot to kill her, or is she following in her mother's footsteps as she goes slowly insane? She spent her teenage years as a part of a cult, having followed her mother into the charismatic leader's community, and now she is having a hard time telling the difference between reality as she sees it and reality as processed by those around her.

The cult leader is about to be released from prison after serving a term for stealing funds from his group, when her mother, serving her own sentence in a mental hospital, dies a presumed suicide. Amanda is not having any of it, though, as she believes her mother was murdered. As events at work seem to spiral out of control, Amanda isn't sure whom to trust. There's a protective (or is he creepy?) homeless man who is either helping her or stalking her. There's a young man at work who is entranced by her (or is it obsessed?) and who is either helping her figure things out or misdirecting her. The police don't believe her stories as one too many times they seem to lead to dead ends. In fact, they are wondering if she is trying to bring attention to herself by crying wolf. And even Sam, her mother's doctor who first suggested that the determination of suicide might have been wrong, is having trouble believing her. Several attempts on her life, or at least she sees events that way, have her calling her own memories into question.

It seems that only the cult leader, newly released to shepherd his flock, can provide the answers Amanda (and the police) need to make sense of the confused events Amanda has been experiencing. Rendahl provides a conclusion that makes sense and brings resolution.

The premise of the book is fascinating and it's easy to see that ,having been involved in a cult, Amanda would have a tenuous grip on reality. However, I never felt as though I was inside Amanda's head. The plot captivated me and had me attempting to make sense of events, but Rendahl makes a few mistakes in details that felt as though they would be revelatory in the end but turned out to simply misdirect.

Intellectually, I understood the terror and confusion that Amanda was experiencing, but I never actually felt it. The plot and the people were interesting, but I did not end up feeling as though I were transported into the action. Still, it was an entertaining read.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, February 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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