Series: Dr. Schwartzman #1
Published by Thomas & Mercer on October 1st 2016
Genres: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Suspense
Source: Amazon Kindle First
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Dr. Annabelle Schwartzman has finally found a place to belong. As the medical examiner for the San Francisco Police Department, working alongside homicide detective Hal Harris, she uncovers the tales the dead can’t tell about their final moments. It is a job that gives her purpose—and a safe haven from her former life at the hands of an abusive husband. Although it’s been seven years since she escaped that ordeal, she still checks over her shoulder to make sure no one is behind her.
Schwartzman’s latest case is deeply troubling: the victim bears an eerie resemblance to herself. What’s more, a shocking piece of evidence suggests that the killer’s business is far from over—and that Schwartzman may be in danger. In this pulse-pounding thriller from award-winning writer Danielle Girard, a woman must face her worst nightmare to catch a killer.
This is a long book so I decided to keep track of my thoughts as I went along because I knew I would forget stuff. It turned out to be a lot of thoughts, but it makes sense—long book = long review. Fasten your seatbelts, friends.
This is going to be a long book.
Okay, looks like we’ve got two different storylines going on here—but as this isn’t an episode of CSI, they’ve got to converge at some point. I’ll wait.
Oooh, alternating POVs. If I really felt invested in Schwartzman as a character, I might mind. But I don’t.
Man, what is it with Schwartzman’s POV and only using last names? It must be annoying having to write “Schwartzman” so many times. I’m already tired of it. I dunno, it’s kind of weird. (Note: later I realize that actually only a couple of names in this POV are last-name-only, but Schwartzman continues to always be last-name in the narration. Other people call her various things.)
I forgot how much I liked crime novels. I love all these missing or disparate pieces that will eventually click. I also love the mystery surrounding Spencer and the fact that stalkers are not usually murderers. Two very separate things with undeniable connections/coincidences.
Okay like Schwartzman is so weak. She’s doing everything wrong. This guy’s clearly a psychopath and she falls to pieces wherever he’s concerned. She’s just egging him on like that. Anyway, I wouldn’t leave her alone if I knew the threat was getting larger—she needs a bodyguard at this point UGH. Everyone’s an idiot.
Why in hell would she go back to SC? Like does she not even take herself seriously? She’s walking into a trap and she knows it and she’s not even taking the proper precautions. Does she want to f— her life over even more? And why is her mother such a b—? God, just forget about her, she’s not going to be of any use here…
Thank god at least Hal is being helpful to the SC investigation, since Schwartzman is being, like, a negative help. Anti-help. A hindrance. She’s keeping too much to herself. Like, she was keeping everything about Spencer to herself before, for obvious reasons, but once that cat was out of the bag she continued to clam up about stuff that would actually be super helpful for people to know. Like what, does she want them to nail this guy or what? Does she really want to keep living this life of silent fear and terror of Spencer just so she doesn’t have to talk about it and face her past and her present issues? Or does she want to finally face it and help them put him behind bars? Jesus, grow up, woman. It’s been too long for it to be that painful to think about. Hell, I might not know what I’m talking about, but I know what the rational decision would be, and she’s letting her emotions rule her. I agree with Harper, it’s funny how such a strong woman could be so easily under his thumb, even still. Did I say funny? I meant frustrating as hell.
But like, back to her being the pure opposite of helpful—she’s basically like View Spoiler » “Here, I’ll let myself get drugged and tied up by Spencer directly…by accident, of course, but I should have known it would happen since I walked into South Carolina completely unprotected…and I know he’s not gonna leave evidence, and I’ll shout that from the rooftops so that everyone is completely and sufficiently demoralized, but the experience will still shake me up a bit (a lot) and be just generally even more unhelpful as an event but hey, Imma do it anyway ’cause I’m a dumba— even after years of being married to this guy.” « Hide Spoiler I’m probably being incredibly unfair because I do understand how a victim is manipulated by a psychopath but it continues to boggle my brain how it’s possible.
Have I ranted enough? Probably. Maybe not though. So let’s look at what happened…
Spoiler version: View Spoiler » In what seems more like a miraculous “I just pulled this deus ex machina out of my ass but I know it’ll work, lol I basically wasted the entire book” sort of thing instead of a “god this is a desperate attempt and definitely cheating and probably won’t work but hell, I’m out of options and sick and tired” sort of thing, she decides to get DNA from both crime scenes (her aunt’s and her aunt’s friend’s, both of whom have been murdered by Spencer’s pawns) and plant evidence at Spencer’s house to put him behind bars for good. Like, she seems 100% certain that it’ll work, even though he’s the mastermind who gets away with everything and she’s never committed, much less gotten away with, a crime in her life. She makes a last-ditch effort look like a piece of cake that could have in fact saved a lot of time. ’Cause he never leaves evidence, so she’s got to plant it…I mean, first of all, the man never leaves evidence, who the hell’s gonna believe that he left some in his f—ing garbage can. Then she decides to go inside his house to get a confession. I have no idea if she really believed she was gonna get it on record, but I don’t think so, ’cause he’s thwarted her attempt to do that previously. She just wanted to hear him say it. I don’t think she had any real plan at this point. I mean, she definitely knew she had to get him arrested that night, because the garbage man would come the next day, taking away the evidence, but I don’t know what she thought would go down when she finally confronted him. Did she really believe that she would get a chance to call 911 before he brutally incapacitated her? It doesn’t matter that he didn’t really intend to murder her, but he did want to control her, so she wouldn’t have free will of any sort if she surrendered or tried to fight him. He can easily overpower her. (God, even when she fights back, she’s pathetic…and of course when she actually finds a gun, she does the morally correct thing and tosses it, instead of using it to, oh I dunno, effectively threaten him while he comes at her with a taser. Why doesn’t she think about these things.) Anyway, it didn’t even matter; he had blocked cell signal from his house, obviously. He was prepared for everything. She was blind and naïve the whole way. Even after years of being married to him. Even after knowing his meticulous he was. UGH. And of course, the cops show up right as she escapes him (one of the few actually good things she does) and arrest him. How convenient. She didn’t even call them. Harper (the detective or whatever—the leader of the investigation—in SC) just had a hunch she would be driving to a whole different city that night to go after him, so she follows her. Brilliant. Aren’t hunches just great? Especially when you need to wrap up a story quickly. I don’t know if it’s really gonna end so nicely, either—Spencer’s nothing if not manipulating and by the end of the book, she’s only been asked to testify against him. There isn’t even a verdict or sentencing yet. I expect that’s why there’s another book in the series. I expect he’ll be up to his nasty tricks for a long time yet. I just hope to Zeus that she learns from this experience and wises up a bit when it comes to dealing with a psychopath. « Hide Spoiler
Hm, what can I say that will give you an adequate idea of what happened without spoiling…Well, I can say that I was unpleasantly surprised by what happened, and it wasn’t because the ending was obviously unhappy, but rather because the ending seemed too convenient and ridiculous. But hopefully it’s not as convenient as it appears to be because the series continues. That’s my hope.
(That wasn’t a rant, but the spoiler version definitely was.)
Overall, I did like the book. I loved the crime-mystery aspect of it. It was detailed and intriguing. Kept me on my toes. I’m all for that, really. I love CSI and such. The other characters were all right; even Spencer was realistic and appropriately hate-able and subtly terrifying. But Schwartzman…man, that woman frustrated me no end. Literally. Until the end (and I’m sure beyond), she did not improve even a fraction in my eyes. I liked it when she finally took control of her situation, until she used that control to make some really stupid decisions. Nothing in the book gave me the tools or the reasons to understand and possibly forgive her, and unfortunately, even my seemingly endless empathy has its limits.
reaction upon finishing
all righty then. glad that worked out so well for her, now I can finally be rid of her
this book in one word