I am a sucker for a good thriller. So, when Jake Parent contacted me wondering if I would review his latest work, Cristina, I just couldn’t resist.
Cristina Rodriguez is a single mother trying to escape a drug-fuelled past and an abusive ex-husband. After buying the house of her dreams in the seaside town of Pleasure Point, Cristina soon realizes that the past is not quite ready to leave her and her 5-year-old daughter, Anise, alone.
For me, this book had two different stories; two different pasts determined to haunt Cristina. First is Anthony, Cristina’s deranged but very wealthy ex-husband, who is determined to take Anise from her solely as a means of punishment, and who will do anything to win. Secondly, there is the history of Cristina’s new home, where four years earlier, a young girl was kidnapped and murdered. In my opinion, these stories didn’t connect and could easily have run independently of each other in separate books. However, both stories had me gripped and my interest was held as the story changed from one “past” to another. Separate or not, together the stories successfully showed Cristina as the sassy, strong woman she was.
Cristina is the type of character you route for. I found here a good female lead, not just because of her strength, but the confidence she built up following years of feeling worthless. Cristina is described as a curvy, sexy Latino woman – and she knows this. She dresses to enhance her sex appeal and there are times throughout the book where she is admiring her own body. Admittedly, these scenes had me uncomfortable at first; they seemed too raunchy. But, I realised that my discomfort was a consequence of society’s claims that woman should not flaunt themselves, or even love themselves for that matter. I applaud Parent for creating a character not afraid to do either.
In terms of how the story is told, Parent was successful in building suspense, whether it be the slow build-up of Cristina’s back story or the mind-boggling “who done it?” question I continually asked myself. His writing style was fluid and easy and the end product for me was a combination of Gone Girl and The Lovely Bones. The story smoothly went from pleasant to creepy, allowing the creepy scenes to become even more so.
I would certainly recommend Cristina to anybody looking for a quick-read thriller – just don’t read it alone at night!