Book Review - The Edge of Normal

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By Craig Thornton

The Edge of Normal

By Carla Norton

Horrific stories of kidnapped girls and young women being held captive for years by psychopathic men seem to be more prevalent than ever in the United States.  Some of these true stories, like the recent one of the three women being held in Ohio by Ariel Castro, are so unbelievable and depraved that we don’t want to believe them. Still, despite our disgust many of us have an unappealing voyeuristic curiosity. We often wonder what is going on inside the situation and exactly how did the horrible ordeal resolve itself.

The Edge of Normal, the new cracker-jack thriller by Carla Norton tells the story of Reeve Le Claire, a former kidnap victim who is enlisted to help with recently free kidnap Tilly Cavanaugh.  At first she is reluctant to follow her therapist, Dr. Lerner from her apartment in San Francisco to the small city of Jefferson, CA, but once she meets Tilly, her assigned task of helping Tilly in the transition to “normalcy” becomes much more than just a duty pressured upon her by Dr. Lerner-it becomes part of her own healing as well.   

In the plethora of procedural crime television shows and novels it’s a pleasant surprise to read Norton’s debut fiction novel that focuses heavily on character and the dramatic situation and isn’t overloaded with terms and legalese that puts you to sleep.  That isn’t to say, that the book doesn’t feel authentic or well researched.  On the contrary, it is full of details and insight that clearly demonstrate the author’s meticulous dedication and hard work. However nothing gets in the way of Norton’s savvy story telling skills and once you start reading The Edge of Normal, you will not be able put it down.

Reeve is an admirable hero and although there are many other characters that are necessary to the plot, Reeve is never out of the story and her journey is the center focus of this fast moving thriller. Like all great heroes Reeve isn’t afraid to skirt a rule or two and put herself in jeopardy for a greater cause.  Ditto, for her ability to stand up to any authority figure that may stand in her way of helping Tilly.  There is an admirable fearlessness in Reeve and I cannot recall a similar twenty something heroine since Clarice Starling. Instinct, the sacrifice of personal life, and emotional detachment are among the qualities that fuel Reeve’s tenacity.

A Hero is only as good as the villain, and Norton has created a formidable villain in The Edge of Normal. Without giving away spoilers, the villain here is one of the most talented, intelligent and evil I have seen in a long time.  Furthermore, there is a central interesting twist on the crimes perpetuated that makes this story highly original.

Norton’s facile style straddles both action and depth with remarkable ease and holds your attention throughout.   A former journalist and true crime writer, Norton is an intelligent writer on her way to a very successful crime fiction career.

Click on Carla Norton's page to buy book

 

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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