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 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.
Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancé discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn’t resist—who is now the monster who won’t let her go.
This book doesn’t start off, like many thrillers do, with a heart-stopping first chapter. In fact other novels by Mo Hayder, Tess Gerritsen, Gillian Flynn, even Peter James arrest you and creep you out with the first chapter or a few pages in. It was an easy breeze reading this and before you know it, you find that you cannot put it down. And you ask yourself why – it is not a complicated storyline, it is not someone fantastically psychotic, it is not set in some dysfunctional family or environment and somehow you just keep reading.
You don’t judge Dr Tao for falling in love with her student neither do you judge her for cheating on her investment banker boyfriend. Jennifer Hillier presents her as flawed but human and you go along with her, every step of her way, as she tries to ‘right’ the wrongs that she has done. You can understand how sometimes we are tempted to do things that we know are wrong but we do it anyway.
Ethan is diagnosed by Sheila as a psychopath but compared to the rest of the ‘psychopaths’ that I have read about and loved, he seems almost mild. Stalk you, been there, done that. Threaten you with sex videos, been there, done that. Kidnap you, oh, get out of here, that is so pedestrian.
The twist at the end seems too ‘neat’ for me but it really pulled the story together at the last minute. The book just lures you in, enough to keep you reading, and CREEP with its easy sentences and factual sharing of addictions and psychotic behaviour demands that you read this book in 1 sitting. I found myself googling for her next book and I will read that as soon as I get my hands on it.
The only gripe that I have with this book is that the psychopath is not creepy enough for me. He seems like your average boy next door with classic good looks and I would have liked him more edgy and with more menace.
Maybe I am too used to Mo Hayder’s and Gillian Flynn’s killers – my hair stands when I imagine what they do to their victims. But all in all, a very good debut novel and deserving of every praise that she has gotten so far.
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