After You, My Dear

PJ Ellis

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 336 Price: (paperback) $24.99 ISBN: 9781663254511 Reviewed: July, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

PJ Ellis’ new thriller, the first in a projected series, follows a former model on the run from her devious ex-husband.

Selena is only 19 when she’s swept off her feet by fashion heir Victor LaRoche. Although initially charming, Victor quickly shows his brutal and controlling true colors. Hoping to escape, Selena moves to Andersonville, Georgia, and finds work as a bank teller. There, she meets Carl, an attractive police detective with his own dark past.

Trouble follows Selena despite her attempts to start over. Victor hasn’t given up on getting her back. And other mysterious figures appear in her life, including a young girl living in squalor in the nearby woods. Soon, people around Selena start dying—one brutally murdered, others more clinically dispatched. To Selena, it’s clear Victor is back on her trail, but the truth proves more complicated. As danger grow closer, she and Carl race to stop the carnage.

After You, My Dear has the bones of a solid thriller. Selena – plucky, kind, resourceful – is easy to root for, especially against the villainous Victor. And Victor’s evil theatrics, including his menacing use of a prosthetic arm, are deliciously skin-crawling without quite descending into camp. A stalwart love interest, multiple children (and dogs) at risk, and an ever-twisting plot add to the novel’s appeal.

There are writing weaknesses, however. The story shifts among so many points of view that even Selena’s housekeeper, an extremely minor character, gets her own chapter. These shifts often reveal too much information, when withholding it would dial up the suspense.

The writing, though generally fluid, sometimes goes over the top, as when Selena “naturally execute[s] a jeté” down a flight of stairs in a moment of peril.

As-is, the novel isn’t polished enough to appeal to a wide audience, particularly in the crowded thriller genre. Streamlining the narrative structure and tightening some of the writing would allow its winning characters and twisty plot to shine.

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