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Review of Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Fractured, the new psychological thriller by Catherine McKenzie, contains a cool twist: it’s based on a fiction-within-a-fiction. In a weird sort of literary meta-cognition, the plot of the actual novel revolves around the plot of a novel one of the characters has written. But the ‘fictional’ novel also exists in real life.

Confused? I’ll try to explain. This is the story of Julie Prentice, a lawyer-turned-author, who flees to a beautiful Cincinnati suburb after the phenomenal success of her first novel, The Murder Game. Relocating from Tacoma, Washington, Julie hopes to escape the unexpected fallout from her bestselling book about a group of law students who plan the perfect crime. (And the author of Fractured, Catherine McKenzie, has actually written The Murder Game as a separate book under the same pseudonym—Julie Apple— used by Julie Prentice. Got it?)

At first, Julie loves Mount Adams, her new neighborhood: overlooking the massive expanse of the Ohio river, the tall, narrow, colorful houses cling to the steep hillsides, and the meandering parks offer her plenty of room to run. (Speaking both physically and metaphorically; Julie is not only hiding from a stalker, but also could be hiding a significant secret about the compelling plot of The Murder Game.)

Stung by the surprising downside of success, Julie is cautious when it comes to integrating into her new community. It doesn't help that one of her neighbors, a bossysaurus named Cindy Sutton, micromanages the entire street, directing opinions and events and propriety with all the subtlety and flexibility of an iron bar. So when her across-the-street neighbor, an attractive man named John, offers to run with her, she’s at first reluctant. But she warms to him, and gradually they become friends.

John, meanwhile, has his own struggles. His wife and son dislike his friendship with Julie, and he loses his IT job, forcing him to strike out on his own. Tensions rise in the neighborhood, until a catastrophe brings things to a head.

I enjoyed Fractured. It’s written from the first-person perspectives of both Julie and John, and constantly left me guessing about the reliability of both narrators. The novel is brilliantly structured, alternating in a year-long countdown toward a present-day courtroom drama; the reader knows something devastating occurs, but doesn't know who was affected or how until the end of the novel. I can’t wait to read The Murder Game!

Buy Fractured HERE

(all books purchased through links on this site result in donations to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation.)

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