The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi (2 out of 5)
The author is very good at descriptive scaring; meaning, descriptive moments that will scare the crap out of you as a reader. There were a number of those, in which our lead character believes the man who murdered her friend in 1982, is now following her and is out to get her. I like descriptiveness. I like bone-chilling moments. The scene in the second chapter where she’s in the kitchen making spinach and someone is outside on her fire escape, is one that will make you shiver. But it also raised questions….because right before that, we’re told the neighborhood she lives in sounds like Englewood, and her apartment sounds like something out of Hell’s Kitchen (New York City rough spot, not the Gordon Ramsay TV show). So…the reader wonders if this is just a possible break-in due to the nature of where she lives, or is it paranoia, because she spent a lot of time in the church parking lot chasing the story of the possible serial killer who murdered her friend? There are other examples of this throughout the book. Not sure if that is the author’s intention, but it made me wonder how much of the book is bordering on paranoia, and not plot.
Flash forward 9 years; it’s now 1993, and Evie Jones is now a rookie reporter. The murder of her friend Lianne haunts her; as does the fact that the accused killer, Robert Cameron, has disappeared and the trail is long cold. In the ways that you hear about in everyday news and read about in everyday true crime novels, Lianne’s unavenged death continues to bother Evie; in fact, you get the impression that this is the reason for her occupation. Toronto comes off as the perfect setting for this tale; I hadn’t read anything set in Toronto and it chilled me. There wasn’t much that did. The galley jacket promises a thriller similar to “Gone Girl” and “Lovely Bones”. Well, both were books that I have read and were passionate about; one in my hatred of the ending(Gone Girl), the other the bleakness of the narrative, but overall, I loved it (Lovely Bones). Naturally, I had to give it a shot. About 78 pages in, I wanted to throw the book up and shot it, Old West style. It’s possible that Evie’s continual paranoia that the suspect is following her is understandable; as it’s likely PTSD from her friend’s murder. However, she didn’t witness the murder or find the body, it’s all told in flashbacks, whispered fear, and newspaper and police reports. Can one develop PTSD from that? I’m sure it is possible, but I cannot speak on authority, because I honestly have no idea. There were a lot of questions throughout this book; I had a lot of questions that seemed to have little or none in the way of answers. I don’t really dig books where most of it is reliant upon paranoia, and that’s how I felt reading this. As I said, there are many moments where you are shivering from the scene unfolding, but then…flat. The moment, like a C sharp blown out of a wet trombone, falls flat and uncomfortable. I kept reading on, only to have more scenes where it seemed as if the end was right around the corner. Evie gets help from David, another childhood friend, so the reader hopes the end and answers are coming, but it seems to turn even more into a jigglesaw puzzle than you originally believed. The end? Well, it’s something… I will say that.
The frustrating part of this book was much of this book. I just for the life of me couldn’t get into it. I felt like I was on a giant hamster wheel in the middle of a circus in the middle of Cabrini Green in the 1980’s in the middle of a sinking barge ship. Confused? I still am.