Five words from the blurb: perfect, next door, gullible, alive, wrong
A few weeks ago I read Kim’s review of Carol Topolski’s new book, Do No Harm, and noticed that Kim described Topolski’s earlier book, Monster Love, as:
“…one of the most disturbing novels I’d ever come across.”
These words are like catnip to me and so I checked out a copy the next time I went to the library.
Monster Love is set in a beautiful suburban street. A new couple, the Gutteridges, move in and they appear to be a normal couple, but behind closed doors they are subjecting their daughter to an almost unimaginable horror. The book is told from the view-point of those who knew the Gutteridges; people who feel a terrible burden of guilt on discovering the truth, as with hindsight it is possible they could have done something to prevent the suffering.
This book had a fantastic beginning – a dark sense of foreboding built up as we slowly discovered what was happening inside that home. I found the insight into the minds of all the people frighteningly realistic and the scene in which the police finally entered the house was shockingly well written.
Unfortunately everything began to unravel once I knew what had happened. I found the couple’s reasoning all too believable, but the book had lost its forward momentum. All my sympathies were with the child and the guilt ridden acquaintances and so discovering the events in the couple’s past that had triggered their malice held little interest. I also found that the characters all tended to sound alike and so the chapter headings were vitally important in revealing who was speaking.
Topolski’s career as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist has clearly been useful in creating a realistic insight into the minds of a wide range of people, but I wish that the truth had been revealed later in the novel.
Despite these criticisms this book had enough to interest me all the way to the end and I’m keen to try her latest book, Do No Harm, at some point in the future.
Have you read anything written by Carol Topolski?