Jenny Kristal was six years old when she was snatched in broad daylight from her quiet suburban neighbourhood.
Twelve years later, she miraculously returns home after escaping her kidnappers – but as her parents and older brother welcome her back, the questions begin to mount.
Where has she been all these years? Why is she back now? And is home really the safest place for her . . . or for any of them?
How much crime do you read? How many time’s have you turned the last page and thought I’ve read that before? For me that has happened far too many times, but when I chose to be part of the blogtour for Safe, there was the merest hint that it might be something a little different, and oh my it definitely was.
Imagine the daughter who disappeared twelve years ago turned up on your doorstep, would it bring a family back together or tear them apart? Barnett didn’t exactly make it appear black and white, instead she drew me into a web of lies and secrets that were buried so deep that the layers appeared endless.
She could have taken the easy route and looked at the whole drama from the point of view of the parents, their torment and suffering but oh no Barnett chose to take Jenny, the lost daughter, as her main narrator. As she tried to slot back into the family something didn’t feel quite right for her and for us. The more I read, the more the uneasiness crept in before Barnett blew the whole plot apart and you were left thinking just where she was going to take me next.
It was by no means easy reading, the trauma of sexual and physical abuse, of neglect and the search for belonging and love ran deep and Barnett dealt with them in a measured and balanced manner. She didn’t trivialise, or exaggerate but used her narrative and characters, to highlight the impact it had on them and their subsequent actions.
I loved how Barnett grasped the psychology behind each of her characters, particularly that of Ben the elder brother. It was his apparent ability to block events that you knew held the key to the truth behind Jenny’s disappearance. Jenny’s tenacity and determination to unlock his mind was wonderfully compelling, it gave her life purpose where before it seemed aimless, even if it led her into danger that might just cost everything.
Barnett didn’t fill her story with endless police procedural, in fact they took a backseat, hardly noticeable, and the lack of screaming sirens was refreshing.
Barnett’s intricate plotting reminded me of a clockwork toy being slowly wound before it’s mad, furious release, before finally the madness subsided and all was still. You felt Jenny was that toy, that after the relentlessness of discovering the shocking mind bending truth she would arrive at peacefulness and calm, a life to look forward to.
If she did or not is up to you to find out and I do so hope you do. Safe was intelligent, brilliantly written and ripe for a Netflix dramatisation!
I would like to thank Arrow Publishing for a copy of Safe to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour
About the author
S. K. Barnett is a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling author whose previous thriller novel Derailed was turned into a major motion picture in 2005 featuring Jennifer Anniston and Clive Owen. He lives in New York State with his family.