Truly, Madly, Deadly
By Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July, 2, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Source: Netgalley for Publisher Tour
Sawyer Dodd has it all. She’s a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She’s free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by “an admirer” and printed with two simple words: “You’re welcome.”
I have to start with a confession – I tried really hard to like Jayne’s Underworld Detective Agency urban fantasy series, but even though I thought it was quirky and unusual, it never did anything for me. I saw the cover for this one and loved the stark simplicity of it, read the synopsis and decided I had to read it before I even looked at the author’s name. I don’t want to say I had trepidations, because this was a completely different genre and category than the author’s other books – but I wondered about her style and how it would translate. I was very happy her voice in Truly, Madly, Deadly. There were a few little things that bothered me, but her style wasn’t one of them.
The story starts immediately in the aftermath of Kevin Anderson’s death. His girlfriend Sawyer is vacillating between grief and a guilty relief that he’s gone. He had been abusive to her behind everyone’s back for a long time – so when a little green note shows up in her locker suggesting that someone had killed him for her, she’s sure someone knew her secret. Not long after that first note, Sawyer starts to feel like she’s being stalked by someone who is either trying to eliminate threats to her or ruin her life.
Sawyer was a character that I ended up feeling mostly neutral about. She wasn’t overly obnoxious, but I wasn’t falling over myself loving her either. I thought it was a little ridiculous that a high school girl wouldn’t tell anyone anything about the notes or the abuse, but the story interested me enough that I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. So..meh. Her youthful responses worked in the right way to ramp up the anxiety in the story. The rest of the characters were all stereotypical, but while I was reading, it didn’t bother me. It was only after I finished that I realized how neatly they fit into the usual categories – the mean girl, the weird admirer, the creepy perv, the new cute guy, the pretty young stepmother, the inattentive but well-meaning daddy, the suspicious lead detective poking around Sawyer from the beginning, etc.
At what I’d call mid-length (272 print pages), the story moved quickly and had moments that had my pulse pounding and my page-turning thumb getting a workout. My quibbles were things that may easily be overlooked if you’re looking for a suspenseful thriller and don’t mind nitpicky details. A couple of the murders and other events seemed logistically and physically improbable once I’d figured out who the killer was, the romance was more of a distraction than anything else and the police didn’t behave very professionally. I suspected who the killer was about midway through when there was a big clue given – too big, in my opinion – but it didn’t make the rest of the story any less menacing and the ending was still freaky. If you’re looking for a fast-paced read packed with a lot of suspense and a body count of villains this is a great book to choose.