Book Review | The Remains
Author: Vincent Zandri
When I first read the description of The Remains by Vincent Zandri, I knew I had to read this book. It had all the elements for a great thriller: a ruthless stalker, a damaged heroine, and a secret buried for 30 years. Rebecca and her twin sister Molly never told anyone what happened to them when Joseph William Whalen held them captive in the basement of his dark and dreary home in the woods. Molly passed away several years ago due to cancer, and Rebecca is the only one who knows what happened to them. Now that 30 years have passed, Rebecca is convinced that by now the man who harmed them is long since dead.
But there are the text messages, the voice that whispers her name, the words and images in autistic artist Franny’s paintings that remind her of Whalen, and the sensation that someone is following her that makes her question everything. At her ex-husband’s insistence, Rebecca finally goes to the police and reveals her secret, discovering that Whalen is alive and well–and no longer in prison. And he hasn’t forgotten Rebecca…
The Remains is told from the perspective of Rebecca, the weaker of the two twins. She is still very much the victim, even though 30 years have gone by. I felt she wasted so much of her life living in the past and not seeking the help she so desperately needed. She is a flawed character, not the type one should read about if looking for a book featuring a strong female lead. I had hoped by the time the book ended, Rebecca would have undergone some changes, but the book is rather circular and ends nearly the same way that it begins.
There are several supporting characters that I found more appealing than Rebecca, but we hardly get to know any of them. Franny, the autistic artist, is the most mysterious and is described as a Boo Radley type. (I do love the nods to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that are in this book.) Since it’s told in 1st person, we get a very narrow perspective of situations. I think this would have been much stronger of a story if it had been written in 3rd person instead.
The story itself is not bad, though it wasn’t as suspenseful as I had imagined it would be. I kept reading because I wanted to know exactly what had happened in the forest 30 years ago, but when we finally learn all of the events as told in flashbacks, I was slightly let down. There was quite a bit of build up to something that wasn’t even that horrifying, in my opinion. Maybe at this point in my life I have just read too many thrillers and seen too many horror movies that it takes a really unique story to “shock” me.
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*