Review: The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

Title: The Edge of Normal

Author: Carla Norton

Published: St Martins Press September 2013

Read or Listen to an Excerpt

Status: Read from September 08 to 09, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy St Martins Press/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Edge of Normal is a chilling debut fiction novel by Carla Norton, best known for her true crime expose, Perfect Victim: The True Story of “The Girl in the Box”. Winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery, it is being published in most major markets.

Regina Victoria LeClaire was twelve when she was kidnapped and held prisoner for nearly four years by a sexual sadist. Her escape was miraculous but at twenty two, Reeve, as she is now known, is still struggling to overcome the horror of her experience. When news breaks that a missing girl has been found after enduring similar circumstances to those Reeve suffered, Reeve’s therapist, Dr Lerner, invites her to join him with a view to befriending the young victim and help in her recovery. Reeve is reluctant, worried Tilly’s story will endanger her own fragile equilibrium, but she quickly bonds with the young girl whose fear is still strong, despite her captor being jailed. Then Tilly reveals a secret to Reeve that she refuses to share with anyone else, there was not one man involved in her abduction but two, and the one she named Mister Monster is still out there.

We know from the outset who Mister Monster is, he is a local police officer, a surveillance expert, and a cunning predator who has developed an elaborate system to satisfy his sadistic pleasures. An omniscient narrator allows us to witness how this monster is able to evade detection and allows the reader a glimpse into the depravity that drives him.

Reeve is an interesting protagonist, uniquely suited to be the heroine of this story. It is wonderful to see her shed her identity as a victim and begin to view herself as a survivor. It is equally satisfying, if perhaps a little bit of a stretch, to have Reeve be the one to unravel the monster’s intricate layers of self protection.

The plot is fairly predictable but the tension is sustained in part by the unknown fate of two other missing girls, Hannah and Abby, and Reeve and Tilly’s vulnerability to the monster. The pace is fast, short chapters encourage you to keep turning the pages and the resolution is pleasingly neat.

Norton draws on her knowledge and understanding of similar crimes to deliver a taut thriller in The Edge of Normal. Well written and absorbing, I’m happy to recommend it to fans of author’s like Chevy Stevens and Heather Gudenkauf.

Available to Purchase From

 St Martins Press I Amazon US I BookDepository I Amazon UK


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 20:03:30

    This must have kept you on the edge of your seat!



  2. Rita Myhomeofbooks (@Myhomeofbooks)
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 00:03:44

    I like Chevy Stevens and Heather Gudenkauf, but after reading the review I feel that this is a much darker read than theirs. Perhaps I will give it a try; I’m apt to cringe while reading explicit details of sadistic criminals. Hmm, something to consider anyway. Thanks so much!



  3. Kathryn White (@KathrynsInbox)
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 21:04:44

    Wow, sounds absolutely chilling.



  4. readingwritingandriesling
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 11:36:06

    Shelleyrae, have you read Others Of My Kind? The introduction sounds very similar and I thought i was getting a plot similar to this – but it didnt turn out to be 😦
    It lacked an emotional connection with its audience.



  5. Belle Read
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 14:10:39

    This sounds like a book that I would enjoy. I love to be held in suspense.



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