My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“You can sleep with a blonde, you can sleep with a brunette, but you’ll never get any sleep with a redhead!”
— Jamie Luner
. . .A humorously tongue-in-cheek quote spoken by one of the grooviest—and prettiest—copper-maned women in the earth realm.
Humorous, because to it, there is a level of truth.
Case in point: The auburn-tressed Erica Spindler, author of the remarkably-scribed tale currently under review, that is The Other Girl.
For it is a gripping and unputdownable effort so saturated with emotion that it kept me up until way past 2 a.m.—for four straight nights, I might add—reading . . . absorbed in Spindler’s created world . . . and hating the fact that the second and minute hands on my clock determined to thrust themselves forward, mocking and reminding me of my growing fatigue, despite my attempts to ignore the gravity of slumber and continue on with my reading.
Yes. It had been quite a challenge to fall asleep on this one.
Followed in a sequence of date stamped and time stamped chapters, The Other Girl gets underway in Jasper, Louisiana, circa 2002, as we’re introduced to our main protagonist, Randi Rader, a fifteen-year-old rebel with many causes.
The product of a highly dysfunctional family (a consistently imprisoned father, two criminal-minded and unlawful older brothers, and a mother who just doesn’t seem to care one iota), the misguided Randi sneaks out of her clan’s trailer home (also called a “double wide”) in the middle of the night in search of the revelous fast life: a party, some beer, some harder booze, some weed, some fellow debaucherous cohorts, or any other type of trouble that will assist in her quest to forget the pain and hardship of her everyday reality.
. . .She finds it.
Originally scheduled to be picked up at a certain location near a power station by her two older brothers, Wes and Robby, at 8 p.m. on that pivotal evening, Randi instead sees a red Ford F-150, owned and operated by one Billy “Billy-Bo” Boman, who tells wild child Randi, ‘Your brothers told me to come pick you up.’ Believing his words to be the truth, just based on the characteristics of her good for nothing siblings, plus the fact of knowing that Billy-Bo had a cooler full of beer, Randi quickly jumped into the passenger seat of Boman’s pickup.
The two chat . . . Randi cracks open and guzzles beer after beer . . . Billy-Bo sees an opportunity for bodily violation . . . he makes his move . . . Randi plays along at first . . . things began to get more forceful—on Billy-Bo’s part . . . Randi fights him off—robbing him of a bag of weed in the process . . . she gets out of his truck—but not without a verbal piercing from him of skank epithets . . . she begans walking down the dark and lonely road, her flip flops-clad feet waxing weary . . . finally, she sees another vehicle approaching her—headlights delightfully bright in the darkness . . . her arms fly up, waving for the car to stop, and it does . . . a man in the driver’s seat and another mysterious young girl in the passenger seat smile at the rebel child, Randi . . . the man tells Randi that he and his female passenger (the other girl being named Cathy) are going to a party and asks Randi if she would like to join them . . . and of course, she would . . . Randi quickly jumps into her second vehicle of the night . . . and with that decision, Randi’s life would never be the same again.
Fourteen years later.
Miranda Rader, detective with the Harmony, Louisiana police department (HPD), has been called to the scene of a grisly, blood-soaked murder—the victim being Richard Stark, a prominent college professor, who also happens to have been the son of a rich and highly influential college president—by her superior and mentor, Chief Buddy Cadwell, who then assigns the investigation to both Miranda and her partner, Jake Billings. But as the probe progresses further along, Miranda is forced to realize—and fretfully so—that her abysmal past has learned of her wherabouts, and is come back…that it may be reacquainted with her.
Set in the author’s native state of Louisiana, respectively, The Other Girl wrenches on the emotions of its reader—twisting and squeezing and saturating those sentiments in thick coats of frustration and anger and sadness and irritation…even hopelessness.
. . .When you feel as though the entire world has banded together against just one of you.
. . .When lies and the two-headed monster of deception seem to hold the upper hand over the truth.
. . .When your entire world feels like it’s coming apart, and being snatched out from under you.
. . .When you feel like you have no one. No, not even anyone at all.
With The Other Girl, Spindler spins a tale that holds a firm grip on its reader—with all of its might, pinching on the psyche without cessation. And though a few of the characters on these pages (including Miranda’s best friend, the recalcitrant and stiff-necked Summer, and her partner, Jake Billings) is strong enough to carry the narrative in his or her own right, there’s only one Miranda Rader. And she is a genuine champion among female protagonists in the mystery thriller subgenre today.
She is sure to become one most beloved.
There are books. And then there are books that possess the capacity to enrapture each one of their readers because the said compositions have personality…and heart…and flaws…and faults…and regrets…and anger…and bitterness…and compassion…and love…and integrity…and dignity…and forgiveness…and self-forgiveness.
Erica Spindler’s forthcoming effort, The Other Girl, is an ingenuine member of the latter.
And when the time of its release to the general public is upon us, I will be right there cheering it on, wishing it a great success among its literary novel peers.
• It is my kindly pleasure to thank St. Martins Press, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced copy of “The Other Girl,” in exchange for my honest review.
Analysis of “The Other Girl” by Erica Spindler is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington: https://catellingtonblog.wordpress.com
Date of Review: Friday, June 23, 2017