Reviewed January 30, 2018.
Encore (Simon & Schuster Audio), 2016. 9 discs.
2018 Sonderbooks Standout:
While I’m reading lots and lots of children’s books for the 2019 Newbery Medal, during my commute I indulged in a thriller for adults. This book is so intense, I can’t promise that it didn’t mess with my driving.
We’ve got a wonderfully unreliable narrator. Lo Blacklock is a travel writer, and she gets an opportunity to go on a luxury cruise on a small lavish ship while her boss is on maternity leave. But a few days before the trip, she suffered a break in, and she’s very much on edge. And then, yes, she had quite a bit too much to drink the first night of the cruise.
So when she wakes up suddenly in the night to the sound of a body thrown into the sea, we definitely wonder if that’s really what she heard. But there must be an explanation for the fact that before dinner, there was a woman in Cabin 10 who gave Lo mascara when she asked to borrow some, and didn’t want it back. After Lo hears the splash in the night and calls security, there is no one in Cabin 10, and she’s told that the person who booked that room never came on the cruise at all. So who did Lo see and talk with?
The security staff don’t believe her. The reader isn’t sure we should either. The ship keeps traveling on.
But some more odd things start to happen.
This book does a wonderful job of setting a puzzle which I not only couldn’t solve, but I couldn’t imagine how the author could possibly solve.
Let’s just say that the author did make the puzzle work – with plenty of life-and-death danger and suspense along the way.
The narrator was fabulous. Though I have to say that I’m easily pleased by anyone with a British accent – but she did a good job and was a delight to listen to. Lo’s precarious mental state was communicated often by the tone of voice, sounding somewhat desperate when called for, or bewildered, or simply exhausted.
This was one of those audiobooks I eventually brought into my house to finish, because I couldn’t stand waiting until my next commute. Highly recommended for a version of a locked-room mystery – at sea.