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Truly, Madly, Deadly

Review

Truly, Madly, Deadly

When Sawyer’s boyfriend, Kevin, dies in a drunk driving accident, Sawyer is stunned. But that is nothing compared to her distress when she finds a note in her locker that reads, “You’re welcome.” Is it possible that someone else knew about Kevin’s violent tendencies? Who would be so desperate to protect Sawyer? In TRULY, MADLY, DEADLY, author Hannah Jayne weaves a web of suspects, clues and red herrings that will keep readers guessing until the end.

"In TRULY, MADLY, DEADLY, Jayne proves herself to be an economical storyteller who knows how to keep her readers in suspense, even if they have a pretty good guess of who the killer might be."

We meet Sawyer during a time of upheaval. Her parents have recently divorced. Her mother, a high-powered lawyer, has taken an “epic” (her mother’s word) opportunity in California, and Sawyer can’t help but feel a little abandoned. Her father has remarried a woman named Tara, and they are already expecting a child. Therapy hasn’t quite helped Sawyer adjust to these seismic shifts. After years as a star athlete on the track team, Sawyer’s coach begins to notice her sleepwalking through practice. Although she had been a straight-A student, she gets her first F on a Spanish test. The death of her boyfriend and appearance of menacing notes bump her already high stress levels off the charts.

Amidst all of this familial shuffling, Sawyer has also moved to a new house. She lives with her father and Tara in a subdivision that has yet to be populated. Sawyer’s family has moved into the model home. This isolation, especially when placed in a neighborhood setting that should be populous, does wonders to ratchet up the tension when things start to go bump in the night.

That first note is just the beginning. Sawyer starts to understand that her every move is being watched. Terrible things befall Sawyer’s other tormentors, and these things are followed by still more eerie locker notes. Could her stalker be Cooper, the new kid with whom she has struck up a guilty dalliance? Could it be Logan, the boy who has had a hopeless crush on her for years? Or could it be someone else who has evaded her suspicion? With the help of her best friend and a sympathetic police officer, Sawyer aims to find out before the already dire situation spirals completely out of control. Because soon, Sawyer’s stalker tries to frame Sawyer herself for the crimes.

The final reveal (stop reading these paragraph if you don’t want any commentary) is not terribly surprising for readers who have been trying to solve the mystery as they go, but perhaps this means that Jayne has laid her clues well, if they could have been a bit more subtle. Still the reader is left with a few lingering questions after the final denouement has played out. Even if the reader identifies the killer before Sawyer does, the final confrontation still packs an emotional punch.

Another strength of Jayne’s storytelling is her complex portrayal of abuse. Sawyer is still in denial about the harm that Kevin inflicted upon her. She even feels guilty about his death because she broke up with him just hours before he was found dead. As readers, we know that even a break-up precipitated suicide would never have been Sawyer’s fault, her doubts about this reflect the insidious psychological hook about abusers dig into their victims. When another character abuses Sawyer, she is slow to admit to herself that his actions very clearly cross a line. Victims rarely want to admit that they are being victimized because the ramifications of seeking help can feel embarrassing or dangerous, even though they are very, very necessary. Jayne’s management of these abusive relationships seem heart-wrenchingly real.

In TRULY, MADLY, DEADLY, Jayne proves herself to be an economical storyteller who knows how to keep her readers in suspense, even if they have a pretty good guess of who the killer might be.

Reviewed by Caroline Osborn on July 16, 2013

Truly, Madly, Deadly
by Hannah Jayne

  • Publication Date: July 2, 2013
  • Genres: Mystery
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • ISBN-10: 1402281218
  • ISBN-13: 9781402281211