The general consensus was that this book was ‘hard going’ and difficult to finish. One of the major reasons for this was the handling of the different time strands and multiple storylines. In spite of this, it engendered some interesting discussion. Some people found that they preferred some of the chapters as stand-alone stories and would have liked the author to concentrate on those – for instance, the Hess storyline. Most of the characters did not create a great deal of interest or empathy with the readers, although the relationship between Larry and Sharleen’s son, Martin, was an exception. Jacquie felt that the late-blooming romance between Larry and Mary-Lou was unconvincing and she did not particularly care about them, which was a sentiment echoed by several others. However, Liz felt that the fact that Larry was still trying to win Mary-Lou’s approval after many years of wasted opportunity rang true.
The book, appears, at the outset, to resemble the feisty female protagonists of two series that revolve around solving murder mysteries: Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Nancy Atherton’s Lori Sheppard.
However, this book plays fast and loose with the usual genre limitations of crime novels, which is what it originally purports to be: there is also the simultaneous narrative of Lily Bard’s own back story. The crime elements mean the books of the series stand alone, but the development of Lily’s own story requires sequential reading.
The dual narratives are accompanied by multiple tones: from the brutally sombre (when Lily’s history is suddenly laid bare) to the earnest (the moment in the karate class when the women share a moment of vindication that their efforts in the class have real world survival implications) to the charming (Claude’s unexpected offer to take care of Lily/ the doctor’s silent provision of medication to a broke Lily) to the injected with dry levity (Lily’s succinct explanation of the threatening visual reminders of her past neutralises the threat).