Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: In Malice, Quite Close by Brandi Lynn Ryder

In Malice, Quite Close
Author: Brandi Lynn Ryder
Publisher: Penguin
Published: August 4, 2011
Hardcover: 400 pages
Source: borrowed from the library

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from French ex-pat Tristan Mourault is the wealthy, urbane heir to a world- renowned collection of art-and an insatiable voyeur enamored with Karen Miller, a fifteen-year-old girl from a working-class family in San Francisco. Deciding he must "rescue" Karen from her unhappy circumstances, Tristan kidnaps her and stages her death to mask his true crime. 
Years later, Karen is now "Gisele" and the pair lead an opulent life in idyllic and rarefied Devon, Washington. But when Nicola, Gisele's young daughter, stumbles upon a secret cache of paintings-all nudes of Gisele-Tristan's carefully constructed world begins to crumble. As Nicola grapples with the tragedy that follows, she crosses paths with Amanda Miller, who comes to Devon to investigate the portraits' uncanny resemblance to her long-lost sister. Set against a byzantine backdrop of greed, artifice, and dangerous manipulations, In Malice, Quite Close is an intoxicating debut that keeps its darkest secrets until the very last page.

My Thoughts: When reading the description of this book, I wasn't quite sure what it was about. And while the plot isn't easy to describe, it's an amazing story of beauty, truth, certainty, and identity. There are a lot of characters in this book and a few of them serve as narrators. The narrators change through out the chapters, but each proves how one person's certainty on an issue differs so much from another person's. Following Gisele's death, each character is certain who killed her and what their motives were for the crime. The characters range in age from 11 up to mid-50s and each is distinct. Brandi Lynn Ryder develops each character fully and you see the growth in Luke, in Gisele, in Amanda, and Nicola. Other characters stay stagnant, but in the end, that is what leads to their downfall.

The most interesting part of this novel wasn't the characters, the plot, or the setting (although it is quite beautiful). It's the themes. Ryder brings up a slew of topics and presents them through the plot. Some characters are grappling with truth, some with certainty, some with doubt, some with identity. With each narrator, you get a different take on these themes. Ryder presents the same issue from many sides and leaves the reader guessing as to what actually lead to Gisele's murder. You start to think it was one person who murdered her, but when another character starts narrating and presents their side, you doubt what you thought. As a reader, you start to see how much of our own lives is based on certainty and doubt. 

This was a gripping novel and one that I found difficult to put down. It's a mystery, contemporary fiction, a thriller. It's so many things, but no matter how you classify it, this book will leave you thinking. This would be a great book club read and one that would also make a great autumn read.


  1. I have a copy of this, but I don't think I've seen many reviews of it so far. Good to know that it would be a nice autumn selection. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. Oh this sounds fantastic and I love love the cover.