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Wednesday 31 December 2014
‘The Good Girl’ by Mary Kubica
Stockholm Syndrome is something which rears its head occasionally in real life news stories, when a kidnapping or abduction is particularly high profile; perhaps the most famous example is the heiress Patty Hearst, who joined forces with her captors.
The Good Girl picks up this concept, and views it from several sides; the kidnapper gets a voice, as do the abductee’s distraught mother, and the detective investigating the crime.
The narrative is structured in an interesting way, flipping back and forth between the aftermath of the kidnapping and its progress, so that the reader thinks s/he knows how things turn out. But the abductee’s safe return raises more questions, and Kubica saves a few surprises to slip in along the way; and there’s a twist at the end which blew me away. The cover blurb asks readers not to give it away, so I won’t; but I confess I didn’t see it coming for a moment, even though the clues were there throughout. The story would probably work quite well without it, but when it came, it lifted a competent, well-crafted debut novel into the realm of something a bit special.
All three narrators use the first person, so it’s to Kubica’s great credit that the three voices are distinct. So too are the backgrounds each side of the story is set against. Eve, the mother, takes for granted her elegant upper-middle class home, while Gabe, the detective, sees things she doesn’t think to mention. Colin, the kidnapper, describes the squalid woodland cabin in which he and Mia, the abductee, hide out in tactile detail; I winced along with them, and shivered through the brutal Minnesota winter.
The book’s greatest strength lies in the development of the various relationships between the characters: the way Eve has slowly seen through her bullying husband and elder daughter over the years, and now, with the kidnapping of her younger one as a catalyst, begins to grow as a person; and the affection which tentatively grows between her and Gabe. Mia’s shift from horror and fear to dependence and intimacy is classic Stockholm Syndrome – but Colin, the kidnapper, appears to develop genuine feelings for her.
It’s all skilfully achieved, and it’s hard to believe The Good Girl is Kubica’s first novel.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Mary Kubica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children and enjoys photography, gardening, and caring for the animals at a local shelter.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.