Friday, September 02, 2016

Hanover House by Brenda Novak

When Evelyn Talbot was sixteen years old, she was abducted, then tortured and left for dead by her boyfriend, Jasper Moore, in their hidden, secret rendezvous spot in the woods. She had walked in on his murders of her 3 best friends and he had to stop her from alerting the police. She was at his mercy for 3 days in the little shed in the wood before he slit her throat and left her to die amongst the bodies of her friends. But Evelyn managed to escape and get to help and did not die. Jasper, with the suspected aid of his parents, immediately disappeared, never caught and brought to justice: his memory and unknown whereabouts always lingering in the shadows and the back of Evelyn’s mind. She goes on to university making it her goal in life to unravel the secrets of the psychopathic mind.

Now a successful psychiatrist, Evelyn has gotten the Bureau of Prisons to fund and build a special maximum security prison and research facility for the study of psychopaths outside the remote Alaskan town of Hilltop. The townspeople there are of mixed opinion about having the prison located there: while it will provide some much needed economic development and jobs, it brings with it some of the worst criminals in the country to their back door. Leading the local opposition to the project is handsome, single, local boy Alaskan State Trooper Benjamin Murphy or “Sergeant Amarok (Wolf)” as he was known by the community – also the only law officer in the region.

When construction on the prison is interrupted by vandalism, Evelyn must travel to Hilltop to oversee its repair, hire some construction site security, and meet with Sergeant Amarok in an attempt to garner some support for the project in town. In the meantime, Jasper reappears on the scene.

The characters that populate the story are a wonderful mix – good/evil, supportive/adversarial. Evelyn is still vulnerable as an adult due to Jasper’s horrendous attack. It continues to color her life and her healing is an ongoing process and a major part of the story. Amarok also has a past that affects him. He had discovered only a few years earlier that he had a twin brother. His mother had left him and his father alone in Alaska taking this brother with her to live in Seattle without further contact. So both the main characters have trust issues with the opposite sex. There are also Jasper and the inmates, all suitably crazy.

The plot is tense and suspenseful with immediate romantic tension between Evelyn and Amarok. The setting in Alaska introduces a layer of hardship and remoteness into things as well which added up to keeping me on edge throughout the reading.

Hanover House is the precursor to the actual series which kicks off with Her Darkest Nightmare in August 2016. With such a dramatic and suspenseful build up, I will definitely be in line to pick up that title.

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