Name: The Deadly Caress
Author: O.N Stefan
Genre: Thriller, Murder-Mystery
For this week’s review I have been given a review copy of The Deadly Caress by O.N. Stefan.
The novel begins in California, with the main protagonist, Amanda Blake on her way to meeting Jean Campbell, a millionaire who owns Campbell-Beare Pharmaceuticals who completely out of the blue wrote a letter to Amanda to tell her she was her birth mother – a complete shock to her as she had never been told she was adopted.
She meets Jean as well as her twin brother Brian (also a complete surprise to her) before passing out from the shock and subsequently has a nightmare involving seeing a woman face down dead in a blue dressing gown.
She wakes up in the evening where she meets her half-brother Dorian who we quickly find out has a strained relationship with Jean. At the dinner table that night Dorian begs Jean for a share of his inheritance which is stored in a trust fund for him by his father but she refuses.
The next morning, Amanda wakes to the screams of the maid Estella and that Jean has been murdered but who killed her? The mystery deepens when we find out Jean tried to change her will the week before she died and also tried to contact Brian’s adoptive brother Scott but why did she feel the need to do both of these things? Also, why are members of her staff now whispering together in secret? Also why is someone now out to kill Amanda?
The Deadly Caress is a book which definitely will grow on you. Initially on opening the page I found the book quite hard to follow as Stefan mentions a lot of information about all of the characters in a very short space of time e.g. in the space of five chapters we learn Amanda has had her adoptive mother commit suicide, a miscarriage and an eating disorder. This will appeal to some readers who like a quick pacy novel and when the character of Jean has died this to-the-point style works a lot better when the novel has something to focus on but in the opening chapters it comes across a little haphazard and I would have liked a much deeper exploration of Amanda’s feelings at this point.
Further to this, I did find it initially hard to get into the story as Amanda’s main motivation to investigate what happened to Jean is a little hard to swallow as for me Jean as a character does not have enough presence in the novel to make Amanda’s motivations ring true and actually her character is written in a way that I found it hard to like.
However, as I have said in the previous paragraph the novel has pacy action and it definitely delivers on this front with some breathtakingly exciting scenes, in particular when the action moves across to Australia and the mystery unravels you would want to set aside a decent amount of time to read this series of chapters as it contains some of the most breathtaking and even cinematic action sequences in the novel and there are plenty of red herrings dripped through the novel to keep you reading on and guessing who killed Jean.
For a thriller, the main crook of the novel is the ending has to be sufficiently unpredictable for the reader to guess whilst also not being silly and if you read the novel again it would make sense. The twist in this novel, when it does come, though probably not completely original as I have seen a similar twist before in movies such as A Perfect Getaway is still satisfying and all the various strands of the story do come together in a convincing and coherent way with no messy loose ends.
A solid and neat thriller with good pacy action but is let down somewhat by its push for violence and action rather than exploration of the characters.
If you would like to read it for yourself then the Deadly Caress is available here on Amazon.
Any thoughts or disagree with my review? Please feel free to comment below.