Monday, May 4, 2015

The Bullet: A Novel by Mary Louise Kelly

Release Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Author Website: 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Caroline Cashion lived a normal life, taught French literature at Georgetown University, and went home often to see her parents and older brothers. They had the perfect life. That was before a constant, throbbing pain her wrist sent Caroline to the doctor. Tests discovered that she had a bullet buried in the tissue of her neck. With no memory as to how it got there, she pressed her family for information and stumbled on a dark secret buried for over thirty years.

Once the truth was told, she traveled to Atlanta to find answers. Everywhere she went, she was met with more questions than answers. Slowly truths began crawling from the past and laid to waste everything Caroline had known to be her life truth. The more she searched, the more risk she posed to a killer that didn't like loose ends. Will she be able to get what she needed for closure in her life? Will the events of the past pose too much of a threat for the present and future?

I saw this book as I looked through the offerings at NetGalley and immediately requested it. The synopsis sounded intriguing and a little different. I mean, how would you deal with a surprise such as finding a bullet in your neck after thirty-some years? I was about fifty pages into the story when I realized something seemed familiar with the tone and style of writing. It took me a minute longer than it should to remember that I read the author's debut novel, Anonymous Sources, during 2013. I liked that one a lot and hoped this current offering would make me feel the same way. Not long into the book, I was hooked by the secrets and a few of the characters themselves.

Caroline Cashion told her story through first person point-of-view. We, the readers, were privy to her thoughts, reasoning, and inner emotional battles as she went on this adventure to figure out what happened to her as a child. Along the way some key supporters revealed themselves and reaffirmed their relationship to her in the midst of the chaos. Her brothers, Tony and Martin, made me tear up when they each had a chance to show or tell Caroline how much she meant to them after a traumatic revelation nearly tore the family apart. It was refreshing to see that sometimes love and the word 'family' didn't have one meaning. Many of the secondary characters increased the believability of the story. Sometimes real people made really bad or really dumb decisions. These characters did the same thing. There were some actions that even I had a hard time rationalizing, but they worked to push the story forward and created a sense of drama on top of everything else.

The book started a little slow, like a gently rising amusement park ride. It took a little while to get you to the top of the ride before everything came crashing down around you, only to speed back up again. That's exactly how this novel operated. In the beginning all the foundation knowledge was presented as well as a likely problem that wouldn't go away. A short time later that problem tipped the story into an unknown piece of land that the characters must negotiate in order to resolve issues or serious consequences follow. Then the earth-shattering bit of information fell into their laps. Our ride took its first nosedive, picking up momentum and rising to another peak within seconds. Poor Caroline never really had much to think about everything she discovered or to deal with the sudden introduction and withdrawal of people in her life. That also came across very clearly in the writing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There was a surprise visit partway through from a familiar face in the author's previous book. Not a huge difference maker in this particular story, but it was nice to see her come around again. Towards the end of the book, I thought I had a sense of how the story was going to tie everything together and Caroline was going to have a life - one way or another. But I did not see the very end coming. What I thought was the end would have tied everything up with a nice bow and sent the characters on with their lives. The author chose to add one more thrill ride at the reader at the last possible second. I have to admit, that last swerve definitely added more layers to the story. So many unanswered questions now. I wonder if the author planned to revisit Caroline at some point. Will the surprise visitor help to make things okay? So many questions!  For readers of mystery and suspense or for those who love face-paced books with many layers to discover, put this book on your TBR pile and pick up a copy today!

The Bullet: A Novel by Mary Louise Kelly is currently available at many online retailers and local bookstores. It can be found in a variety of formats including hardcover, paperback, audio-book and digital (Kindle, MP3, etc.). Below is a link to the Amazon page for the book.
The Bullet: A Novel by Mary Louise Kelly

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