“The Necklace” is one of those books that I love reading. Books that are so engaging, you can’t put them down and so you read them in a day. Author Matt Witten does a magnificent job creating a main character, Susan, whom we don’t exactly identify with, but we can certainly empathize with. Thus we really care about her journey—both metaphorical and physical—to seek justice for the daughter who had been brutally raped and murdered twenty years earlier. And while the story seems perhaps a bit far-fetched, reading the Author’s Note at the end shines a light on how something like this could, and maybe actually has, taken place.
From the start, you will be engrossed and immersed in the life of Susan Lentigo as she replays the last week of her seven-year-old daughter Amy’s life and, twenty years later, embarks on a journey to see the convicted murderer executed. On her way, bad luck seems to dog her footsteps. First her car breaks down, then all her money is stolen. But Susan has faith that she needs to continue on her trip to finally see justice being done for Amy. And justice is, indeed, meted out for Amy. But it’s certainly not what we think it will be when we begin this story.
On her trip, Susan makes a rash decision to stop in a town to visit someone from her old life, her Amy-life. And she sees something that makes her rethink everything that she’s lived through for the last two decades. But who will believe a woman without even enough money to buy herself a meal at a fast food restaurant? She ends up with two unlikely allies, one the former FBI agent, now retired, who was responsible for helping to arrest the man convicted of the crime. The other a high school girl who originally helps her take a picture, and then, after hearing Susan’s story, helps her quite a bit. She has her own reasons for wanting to help Susan find justice for Amy.
The narrative is in third person, and Witten captures Susan’s angst and self-doubt with just the right amount and quality of dialogue and description. The real villain isn’t clear, although we do know from reading about the book that the convicted killer might not be the real killer after all. And there are just enough twists and turns to keep us turning pages because we really want to know what happens. Because we really care about Susan. And also because we really don’t like to see innocent people executed for crimes they didn’t commit. Have no fear. Justice wins in the end. And you’ll love taking the journey along with Susan to find the real killer.
One last thought about this novel is something that Witten might or might not have intended. Susan is not educated, nor does she have a good job. She and her mother live together and basically survive paycheck to paycheck. There is no extra money for a vacation, meals at restaurants, even a decent car. There’s little money for medical problems, and because of Susan’s trauma losing her only daughter, she really can’t move on with her life. We meet people like that in our lives, only we may not know that their situations are as desperate, living close to the edge, as Susan’s. People who have lived through trauma we can’t see on their faces. People who suffer from illness, mental or physical, that we also can’t see on their faces. People who for whatever reason—learning problems, financial difficulties, life circumstances—haven’t been able to continue their education and so have minimal wage jobs and live, like Susan, for each paycheck. This book sheds light on those who are struggling, and thus provides a bit of empathy for such people. In addition to being a kick-ass thriller, this is also a thoughtful and significant read.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by the author for review purposes.