Sunday, June 21, 2009
You Think You Don't Know Your Husband...
In Lisa Unger's Die For You, Isabel thought she knew her husband, until the night he didn't come home. Married to Marcus for five years, and except for one brief indiscretion by her husband, Isabel thought they were happy. After alternating between anger and panic all night, she finally gets a phone call from his cell phone- and hears a violent struggle and a man scream on the other end of the call.
A call to the police goes nowhere, as a husband who doesn't come home is not high on the priority list. Isabel goes to her husband's office, a successful high-tech game software company, to talk to his partner. The partner is evasive, angering Isabel. Before she can get any more information, the FBI raids the office. Confusion reigns, and Isabel is knocked out.
When she awakens in the hospital, she finds out that it wasn't the FBI, and several people were killed, including her husband's partner. Her apartment has been trashed, and all of the money she and Marcus had in the bank is gone. Isabel discovers that her husband conned her brother-in-law Erik out of his life savings as well.
Police Detective Grady Crowe is wary of Isabel's claims of ignorance of her husband's activities. More bad news arrives when it is discovered that her husband is not the real Marcus Raine- that man was murdered years ago, and it appears that her husband assumed his identity. Did he also murder the real Marcus Raine?
Isabel is determined to discover the truth about her husband. Crowe warns her against that, particularly when more people show up dead, and Isabel seems to be the one closest to the dead bodies upon discovery. Is she a victim or a murderer?
Unger writes a fast-paced thriller, and she uses the setting of New York City to good advantage. Anyone familiar with the city will recognize the spot in Central Park where a confrontation takes place, and the Upper West Side area where Isabel lives. A journey to Prague brings that city to life as well.
Some thrillers/mysteries sacrifice character for action, but Unger's characters are fully drawn. The family dynamic between Isabel and her sister Linda, Erik and their kids is realistic and interesting. Erik and Linda's relationship is loving, even though both make big mistakes that threaten that relationship. Even Detective Crowe and his partner have a good chemistry.
One thing bugged me though. Isabel's actions frequently put herself in danger, but also endanger her family. Isabel's quest to find out the truth about her husband caused her family great pain, and I couldn't understand that. Was her need to personally discover the truth about her husband worth the agony she put her family through?
Isabel also knew nothing about her and her husband's finances. She signed papers he put in front of her, and agreed to use her name on all the paperwork for his company. Could she be that naive, particularly since her father left her mother, sister and her broke when he killed himself. Yet her sister makes a similar mistake. Perhaps this is a cautionary reminder to the reader to always pay attention to your family finances.
I didn't understand Isabel, but maybe that is the point of the story. Maybe we never really know anybody, even the person sleeping next to you for five years. I give Die For You three and half stars because Unger kept me turning the pages when I should have been sleeping.