If he can’t have her . . .
Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behaviour. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away.
. . . no one else can.
2011 has been quite the ground breaking year for me and incidentally marks my first full year reviewing and I can honestly say I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. As we approach the festive season – happy holidays, the coke lorry, turkey (cooked), stuffing, did I mention the coke lorry? – the books are still arriving thick and fast and despite a volatile financial market there appears to be no let-up in publications, January is going to be a very busy month. Apparently crime does pay!
With that in mind choosing the next book to read/review is never easy, people often ask me how I make my decision, sometimes it’s as simple as taking pot luck, closing my eyes and picking up a book off the shelf and other times it’s a long drawn out process depending on my reading mood and publication deadlines. When Creep – by debut Canadian author Jennifer Hillier – arrived in the mail, the cover garnished with handcuffs attached to a metal chain, I was in the middle of reading John Rector’s Already Gone and about to begin She’s Never Coming Back by Hans Koppel. The cover art – for Creep – immediately sucks you in; the words he’s watching you in red and aforementioned handcuffs demand your attention. I couldn’t wait to start reading it.
Fortunately I didn’t have long to wait.
With an intelligent narrative, an engaging multi layered storyline and an ending to die for, looking back I realise I was hooked within a matter of pages. Creep will eat away at your psyche, delve into your subconscious and little by little, page by page, it will wear you down, hold you captive until the final throws announce a climactic ending that leaves the door wide open in the most mesmerising of ways. The further I read and the closer I came to reaching Creep’s dénouement I realised I had conjured up my perfect ending in my mind and I have to say, I certainly wasn’t disappointed! The final imagery will remain in my mind for some time, there’s something so evocative, eerie and simple about the final scene that made me wish I had the follow up title – Freak – locked and ready to read! Unfortunately I’ll have to wait until August next year to find out what happens next!
Character development is impressive and incredibly well structured to say the least; Hillier has done a magnificent job allowing each character, no matter how big their role, to grow and develop with minimum effort. Key to any good book is a leading character – or characters – you can associate or empathise with along the way, a character who will allow you to explore a range of emotions from one chapter to the next, a character that will have you shouting at the book evoking an unexpected reaction to a scene or decision, big or small. Creep has that in droves.
Dr Sheila Tao is an intriguing character. She has everything to live for, a loving Fiancé, a good job, financial security and a wedding to look forward to in a matter of months, yet she decides to throw it all away when she embarks on an illicit affair with student Ethan Wolfe. Slowly, as her story unfolds, we begin to understand her actions, it all becomes clear – but can you forgive? Can Morris forgive? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
All three main protagonists have strength and weaknesses, Ethan an incredibly intelligent and evil sociopath – I never tired of his character – and Sheila and Morris both recovering addicts who have supported each other over the last 12 months. I felt Hillier could have easily gone a different route with Sheila, salaciously exploring her addiction but the author handles her addiction with care and a sensitivity I didn’t expect.
Considering Creep is the work of a debut author, it’s frankly astonishing how fluid and pacy this book is, a veritable page turner. She establishes a solid foundation in the opening chapters and then, slowly but surely, moves the story along changing gear as and when required, Hillier somehow managing to pace the book with an ease and confidence that belies her authorial experience. The final third of the book is gone in a flash and will most certainly leave you wanting more; I guess you can’t ask for more than that, experienced or not.
With numerous twists and turns along the way, Creep will entertain and enthral from beginning to end. Just try and read this book without humming along to Radiohead’s Creep – I dare you!