Saturday, March 2, 2019

Coming for You by Kristi Belcamino: Reading Room Review

I became a fan of Kristi Belcamino's writing shortly after she started her Gabriella Giovanni series, an immediate favorite of mine. She has gone on to write more series and a few young adult stories, all exceptional books that cemented her place as one of my favorite authors. I have given all her books well-deserved high praise, and now I am delighted to take the highest praise and apply it to what I consider her best work yet. Coming for You is akin to a gymnast doing amazing routine after routine, and then, the gymnast hits a flawless performance that causes an audible gasp in the audience. I knew Coming for You would be a great story, because all of Kristi's previous stories were that, but the intricacies and twists of plot in this new book are that flawless performance all artists strive for. 

Sofia Kennedy is living a good life, happy with her husband Jason and her teenage daughter Kate. Kate is a week away from leaving for college, and Sofia and Jason are having an "empty nest" party with their two closest couple friends, who are also the parents of Kate's two closest friends. But, the morning after the party, Sofia discovers that Kate has not slept in her bed the night before and didn't leave any phone or text messages saying she was staying out. Sofia knows that Kate wouldn't leave them worrying, and after checking with her two friends, she calls the police. Because Kate had not yet turned eighteen, there is an investigation started immediately, but Sofia feels the urgency of the situation more than the police do. She and Jason and their friends, Cecile and Alex, Dan and Gretchen start their own search. As the couples look for Kate or any clues to her whereabouts in the last place she was known to be seen, there is suddenly an intense increase in police activity in the area, and Sofia learns that Kate’s body has been found. There is no question that foul play is involved. 

Sofia’s greatest fear about the investigation into her daughter’s murder is that the past Sofia worked so hard to put behind her has caught up with her and is a factor in Kate’s death. Even Jason doesn’t know that Sofia Castle Kennedy was born Sofia Castellucci and grew up in a world of violence that ripped her family apart, sending her father to prison and her across the country in denial of that world and to the creation of a new world. Of course, lots of people have secrets they don’t want exposed, and there is no dearth of secrets amongst the characters in this tale. Before the denouement, Sofia will have used her dogged determination to uncover many of the shocking secrets of her once safe sanctuary.

The different elements of this story work brilliantly together to create the perfect thriller. The method of telling the story both moves it along and fills in blanks. After the initial set-up of the discovery that Kate is missing and her body being found, there is not only Sofia’s voice moving the narrative along, but Kate’s is there as well, as she writes in her journal and as she experiences the events leading up to her death. Their dual voices not only allow us to have a complete picture of events, they show us the loving relationship between mother and daughter, an important part of Sofia’s overall story, as her relationship with her own mother was the opposite of loving. Sofia had found her unconditional love in life, and that reminds us of just how tragic this story is. And, there is one of the most satisfying consistencies in Kristi Belcamino’s stories, a strong female lead character, and with Sofia we certainly get that. No one takes a character from the depths of despair to an avenging angel better than Kristi Belcamino. 

As full of wonderful twists as this book is, it is exceedingly fair. After I reached the end and had all the answers, I realized that I had overlooked a few important clues on the road to revelation. I don’t often want to reread a book to do a fine tooth combing of it, but I’m betting that a second read of Coming for You would be quite exciting for me as I zero in on the early signs of what is to come. It truly is a book that doesn’t let go. It is a crime thriller at its best, building the suspense to a fever pitch at a pace that is right on target. Sofia’s unraveling of clues never seems forced and always plausible. Those wishing to write a suspenseful thriller would do well to read and study this work. The ending was the best of all, as I thought I’d figured it out, but I was wrong. I love being wrong when it’s a twist served up with perfection. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Readers enjoy books best when the story swallows them whole, and this story will consume you from beginning to end. If they make movie of this book, and I hope they do,  I’ll be the first in line to buy a ticket.

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