Title: Fatal Secrets by Richie Tankersley Cusick
Summary: After her sister drowns, Ryan McCauley is haunted by the dead girl’s past
Two sisters walk through a snowy wood, collecting pinecones for Christmas decorations. Something has frightened Marisa, and she’s about to explain it to Ryan, her younger sister, when she steps onto a patch of thin ice. Marisa plummets into the frigid water below, and though Ryan tries to save her, there’s nothing she can do. Even though the accident wasn’t her fault, Ryan is consumed by guilt. But guilt is not what she should be afraid of. Three weeks after Marisa’s death, Ryan sees her everywhere. At night she feels something following her, but when she turns around there’s nothing there. A creepy college friend of Marisa’s shows up at Ryan’s house, and her mother asks him to stay through Christmas. To free herself of guilt, Ryan must unlock Marisa’s terrible secret – before death takes her too.
Tagline: Skating on thin ice…
Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.
Warning: Even by my own standards, I swear a lot towards the end of this bag of shit recap.
I read this for the first time a few months ago. Based on the front cover alone, my hopes were that it was going to be some hi-jinks romp set at a ski resort, with all the standard clichés that requires: alpha bitch who is possessive over men, protagonist torn between a serial killer and a nice guy (but which is which? OMG???) and some very tame parties, where everyone drinks Pepsi and plays monopoly.
I was wrong.
Also, I could not get it into my head that the protagonist, Ryan, is a girl, so I kept thinking it was very progressive, what with the m/m relationships.
I was wrong.
I have forgotten all of the intricacies of this story, I know how it ends, but I can’t remember anything that happens in the middle or who is who and all that nonsense. I’ve purged almost everything except the WTF-out-of-nowhere-like-an-RKO plot from my mind.
Also, I started this recap in July. Seriously.
[Wing: Dove really, really hated this book. I … did not. We’ll see how well this recap goes. Also, Mimi’s cover is weird.]
We start with a prologue, wherein Ryan (GIRL, Dove, SHE’S A GIRL) and sister Marisa are out hunting for pinecones for Ryan’s boss, Mr Partini, who owns a toy shop and makes all the toys himself. I know this because every word Ryan utters is exposition.
Marisa is jumpy and eager to go because she needs to drop off a film to be developed at the drugstore. God, remember when you had to wait for photos, and then you’d get them back and at least half are a massive smudge because one of your asshat friends had their finger in front of the lens. Or they were out of focus. Or everyone looked like Satan with red-eye. Ah, nostalgia.
Marisa asks Ryan if she can keep a secret, that she thinks she’s in trouble and Ryan can’t tell anyone ever. (And just from the setup, it sounds like she’s pregnant, except I’ve read the blurb on the back page, so it’s not that.) Then Marisa pulls back.
As Ryan watched, Marissa gazed off into the woods again, twisting her necklace distractedly. “It’s a long story, and I don’t want to go into all of it right now.”
“Wait a minute. Is this something you should tell Mom–”
“No!” Marissa’s voice raised, and she tightened her grip. “Especially not Mom! Not yet!”
“Okay, okay, don’t get so upset – I won’t tell her!” Ryan was growing more alarmed by the second, and she tried to pull away. “Marissa… you’re really scaring me. What’s wrong?”
“I’m not sure – not a hundred percent anyway – but I’m pretty sure.” As Ryan squirmed free, Marissa put her hands to her head, then let them drop; She leaned back against a tree and closed her eyes.
“Sure about what?” Ryan stepped closer. “When will you know?”
“In a few days. Then I’ll have to decide what to do. Oh, Ryan, it’s just too complicated, I don’t even know where to start!” For a minute Marissa looked as if she might cry. “I just never thought he’d do something like this–”
“Oh, God. Oh, God, Marissa, it’s some guy, isn’t it? What have you done now?”
For fuck’s sake, Marisa. Either spit it out or don’t. I bet you’re one of those girls who makes Facebook statuses along the lines of “Certain people shouldn’t bitch behind their friends’ backs”, and then refuses to say any more as all their click-bait friends swarm and try and figure out who the jab is directed at.
Gimme a blindfold and some stupidity: 1 (“I didn’t see anything” or “I’m sorry, I don’t remember anything about the accident”, because either would lead us to the bad guy, and we’ve still got twelve chapters to go.)
Anyway, because Marisa is clearly freaked out, Ryan assumes it’s a joke, and sends Marisa over to a clearing, while she goes over a hill for these damned pinecones.
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1 (When the protagonist experiences something genuinely frightening, such as finding a corpse, or that someone has been in their room while they were home alone, and it is treated as an attention-seeking prank. Or, when something is done that is written off as a prank or a joke, but is actually pretty damned spiteful.)
Ryan hears Marisa’s screams, and Ryan runs back to the clearing, which, actually, is not a clearing, but a frozen lake. That is starting to thaw. She can see Marisa’s thrashing arms, but can’t get to her. But then she does. Marisa yells something about her sleeve, which is probably important as it’s a weird thing to say. Ryan takes her sleeve and hangs on… but Marisa is no longer attached to it. Which is weird again. Have you ever tried to get out of wet clothes, especially while trying not to drown? It’s hard fucking work.
Still Marisa is dead, and that’s the prologue.
While I’m here, I’ll say that Cusick is finally using prologues for sensible reasons, rather than dot-dot-dot and mwahahahahah! Still. I don’t care. I really hate this book and not in a gleeful “let’s rip it to shreds, isn’t Trick or Treat funny” way. I’m only doing this because I bought Baby-Sitter 2-4 for Wing to recap, and she hates me. This is my penance. Otherwise I’d be tempted to pretend I don’t own it.
[Wing: What’s funny here is that I enjoyed it, as much as I can enjoy a Cusick book, and so I probably should have been the one to recap it.]
Chapter 1 is set three weeks later. And Cusick actually made “Three Weeks Later” a heading, because she is aware that if she put it in the text, it wouldn’t register for me!
We have Ryan and her best friend, Phoebe, getting out of school for Christmas break. Ryan feels like she’s being watched. She also thinks her mom wishes that the deaths had been switched, that Marisa lived and Ryan died. Ryan feels hideously responsible, and Phoebe is actually quite soothing here. Hildy would’ve just told Ryan to get over it.
“It wasn’t anybody’s fault,” Phoebe insisted. “Think about it, Ryan, how many people you could blame for what happened that day. You told me yourself, Mr. Partini’s still never gotten over it. And your mom’s the one who made Marissa go with you. And poor Steve – he suggested you check out North Woods. And I had to help my mom, so I couldn’t go with you. Maybe if I had, Marissa wouldn’t have died. Maybe If I’d gone, we both could have saved her. Do you blame me for what happened?”
Who’s Steve? Dunno. [Wing: You know what? That is actually a nice, subtle bit of foreshadowing, holy shit. Cusick, I didn’t think you had it in you!] Still, Ryan feels guilty because she ignored Marisa’s angst. And Phoebe is kind of insensitive here when she makes a joke that she’d be glad if the same thing happened to Jinx. Note from the future, Jinx is Phoebe’s brother. Not her pet cat, which is what I was expecting with a name like that. She then ups our favourite counter, by saying that Ryan will drive herself crazy if she keeps thinking like this.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 (Essentially, “crazy” is a blanket term for a bad person with no qualms about killing anyone and everyone. Often because they are “crazy”. Because that’s how mental health works.)
As they walk to work, they recount a tale of Marisa that leaves them “roaring” with laughter. I guess you had to be there, because it wasn’t that funny. Then Ryan says she keeps asking if they can put up a tree, but mom’s in heavy mourning mode, and won’t really talk to her. She just keeps going into Marisa’s room, and locking the door, like it’s a shrine. Healthy. [Wing: It has literally only been three weeks since her daughter died. People need to cut that woman some fucking slack. Ryan too, for that matter, though I think she’s the one who is hardest on herself, at least at this point.] Phoebe suggests Ryan tell Steve, and the text later clarifies that Steve is Ryan’s mom’s boyfriend. There’s a chunk of lol!crazy in there, and we learn that Phoebe has a thing for Steve, both for his looks (she likes his thinning hair) and the fact he is loaded, despite being a college professor. Ryan speculates it’s family money. Given the plot, this is not them being vapid, this is sending out red herrings, but since it’s so early on and nobody knows what the plot is until the reveal… it’s pointless. [Wing: It’s also super weird. Why in the world is Phoebe thinking about Steve like that? Not only is he so much older, but he is dating her best friend’s mother! That is weird, Phoebe! And actually, it is another bit of subtle foreshadowing. Cusick. I am shocked.]
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 5 (+4)
Phoebe then tells Ryan that she needs to get laid. Well, that she needs a boyfriend. God this is dull.
They then spot total hottie, and Marisa’s ex, Winchester Stone. (All these weird names. When I met Wing for the first time, I was shocked to know how normal her real name was. After reading so much PH, I assumed every American was named after a gun, a surname, or an object.) [Wing: I lied. My real name is Colt Williamson Lamp.] He works at the garage and sets everyone’s hearts aflutter because he’s just sooooo cute. He wears tight jeans and is kind of a loner. [Wing: I love that all the hot boys wear tight jeans in Point Horrors.]
They get to Partini’s Toyshop, where Ryan works, and it sounds adorable, all olde-worlde and with the snow… oooh, despite the fact it’s the middle of July (and probably will be August by the time I post), I want it to be Christmas. [Wing: HA. Your hatred and delays have actually put this recap into the appropriate season. I heard my first Christmas advert today.]
They paused on the sidewalk in front of a shabby brick building, smiling as they peered through the frost on the front window. Beyond a quaint sign reading PARTINI’S TOYSHOP, a Santa Claus doll supervised his workshop. In caps and aprons, amidst pots and wood shavings and sleepy-eyed reindeer, mechanical elves measured and cut, hammered and sawed, assembling toys while Christmas carols sang out from a hidden speaker.
I really do love winter, and fairy lights, and the food, and the bad weather, and just everything about the season. I’m not so fussed on the whole cards/gifts/shopping bit. That does my head in. [Wing: I like the lights, gorgeous cards, and giving fabulous gifts that are perfectly customised for the recipient. I hate the bad weather and winter.]
Oh god, I can’t do this. I cannot do this fucking book. (Taking a time out: 17 July 2015)
And I’m back. That was a really long time out. I threw the book across the room 110 days ago, and haven’t read a Cusick since. And Wing totally had the upper hand in getting me to do this, because she did five recaps in a row.
Ok, so Ryan goes in to work, after Phoebe expresses concern that Ryan will have to walk home alone. I’m sure nothing awful will happen to her. Oh no. Not with Phoebe specifically warning her.
So, Ryan has to dust the dollhouse, but the dolls are not in the parlour where they usually are. They’re outside, and one doll is in the middle of a frozen river (a mirror) with only her head and arms visible. She also thinks she sees a person in a bulky coat and a ski mask. [Wing: This made me want the story to really be about ghosts using the dolls to tell a story. I know I read this in a children’s book at one point. I think it may be The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright, but I am not absolutely certain. I remember finding some of the doll parts very creepy.]
She calls for Mr Partini and tries to show him the scene, but he’s bumbling around with his tools, and when he gets there, the mirror (the pond) is still broken, but there’s no drowning doll.
Since there are no customers and Ryan is sad, Mr Partini suggests she leaves early. Also, Mr Partini speaks in broken English.
And at this point, I’m hit with illness, so had to stop again. I hate this fucking book. It is clearly cursed. Fuck you, Fatal Secrets. I fucking hate you.
On Ryan’s way home, she’s thinking about how it’s all her fault that Marissa’s dead, and she’s hit by a car. Thankfully it’s Winchester Stone that hit her, and he’s hot, so it’s all good. He gives her a ride home, during which Ryan ogles him out of the corner of her eye.
When she gets home, her mom is in Marissa’s room, spaced out, and just hoping that it’s all a mistake and Marisa somehow survived, and she’ll come home one day. Much as I hate this book, this scene is pretty good. It echoes a scene in one of the American Silent Hills for me. This is what bugs me, when Cusick’s on fire, she nails it, when she’s not, she’s annoying, boring or downright offensive.
She’s interrupted by a knock at the door and it’s a stranger with presents from Marissa. He knows she’s dead, and then he says to Ryan, “You’re the one who let her drown.”
What a fucking charmer.
The stranger is Charles Eastman, and he claims he and Marissa were seeing each other. But neither Ryan nor her mother can remember her mentioning him. He waves that off with a cheerful slut-shame, Marissa had a “string of boyfriends”.
Ryan feels like he can’t possibly have said that she let her sister drown, because he’s being all charming now, but he makes a few comments that since she was with Marissa at the time, it will stay with her forever. Ryan decides to go to Phoebe’s house.
Charles says that he’s staying in a motel and casually drops into conversation that he’s all alone over Christmas because his parents are divorced, one is in Europe and one is remarried. (Parents? What parents?: 1 (They’re in fucking Europe. They’re always in fucking Europe.). Ryan doesn’t like him so leaves, and I bet by the time she gets back, he’ll have moved in.
[Wing: I like how this is actually a bit of a subversion of the trope, because he is clearly lying to her.]
She goes to Phoebe’s but Phoebe’s out with a guy, so instead she talks to Jinx, who is annoying but kind of funny, but also heavy on the lol!crazy ableism. Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 10 (+5)
It takes about five pages to say: Phoebe is out and Jinx thinks Ryan probably misheard what Charles said.
She gets home (jeez, this girl must have thighs of steel: she walked to work, got hit by a car, walked to Phoebe’s and then walked back – in the snow and ice) and guess what? Mom asked Charles to stay for Christmas. He says mom likes him, but Ryan doesn’t. He gets in her space, touches her and says he might surprise her. And if he’s not the bad guy (I still can’t remember who is), I’m tearing up my remaining books and bugging out of Cusick, because I’M SICK OF “GOOD” GUYS BEING SKEEVES. [Wing: Yeah, Cusick is terrible about that, but since he clearly is the bad guy, at least this time it’s not that same old tired writing.]
When Mom and Steve get back, Ryan tries to make a very valid argument that none of them remember Marissa mentioning a Charles – who she was allegedly dating – and he could be anyone, so bad form on inviting him to stay. Mom says that if he’s part of Marissa’s life, she wants him here for Christmas, and Ryan’s all, “What fucking Christmas? You’ve been a zombie since Marissa died, and now he’s here you want trees and fucking eggnog.” Well, not exactly, but she would if Cusick swore. This gets her nowhere. Also, kudos to Steve for trying to back Ryan here.
Steve talks to Ryan privately and agrees to check if Charles does go to college. Ryan does not tell him what Charles said to her. Because reasons. Then Mom shows up and says that Charles is staying in Ryan’s room, and Ryan is staying in Marissa’s. Because reasons. [Wing: This makes no sense to me either. I mean, I get why she doesn’t want him in Marissa’s room, but the way she’s treating it, she shouldn’t want Ryan in there, either!]
Ryan calls Phoebe and recaps everything that’s just happened. This recap is sponsored by the WWE: 1 (Recap! Recap! Recap! Something happened last chapter. Tell us about it! Tell it again. Then tell it one more time. Because otherwise we’ll forget.)
At work, Mr Partini goes on a delivery, leaving Ryan to lock up. While dealing with her last customer, she thinks she sees the ski mask dude – the Muffin Man – out the window again. Once the customer leaves, she checks outside, and there’s a supposed jump scare with Jinx showing up, but it doesn’t work, because I just don’t care.
He buys a teddy bear for his sister and gives Ryan a ride home. After he leaves, she hears a car honking long and without break, so she follows the sound to the garage and the sound is coming from Marissa’s car, where there’s a dead body with wet blonde hair and red ribbons. The body moves, the garage slams shut, and then Ryan knocks herself out. I think. It’s a bit confusing.
[Wing: It’s all so weird, too. Who is pretending to be the dead body with wet blonde hair? Is she hallucinating? Why is this never actually addressed?]
She wakes up and Charles tells her that he found her when he opened the garage to put his car away. [Wing: Why is Charles keeping his car in the garage when he doesn’t live there? Why does no one else use it? How big is this fucking garage? Marissa’s car is already in there, how many more will fit? I mean, I know he’s lying, but why didn’t Ryan think about any of these things?] [Dove: I couldn’t even be bothered to go down that route, but you’re absolutely right.] He tries to get her to talk about Marissa, he wants to know if she was happy during her final hours, but Ryan won’t talk. Good for you, Ryan. Although it’s mostly because she doesn’t want to talk about Marissa period, rather than the fact that up until this point, Charles has been a creep.
Next up, Mom tries to start a conversation about Ryan seeing a counsellor, and then is interrupted by Phoebe arriving to take them carolling. Phoebe, with a remarkable lack of interest in all the signs Ryan is giving (outright saying “no”), insists that Charles go with them. If Wing did that to me, I’d – well, I’d probably ask her what I was eating when I first read her writing, to check whether she was a shapeshifter, because my friend wouldn’t force me to socialise with someone who made me feel bad. [Wing: Word.]
She goes carolling and Charles keeps staring at her with a concerned look, he gets her a drink and says that he doesn’t deserve how she’s acting towards him since he saved her life and all. Then he stomps off.
Ok, this is so stupid. If he was so desperate to be liked by her so he could fly under the radar, maybe he shouldn’t have said she killed her sister and then groped her. I know we’re supposed to doubt that he said that to Ryan, but this is PH, you know he said that. Still, Ryan starts to feel bad so she sips the drink. [Wing: NEVER DRINK SOMETHING SOMEONE ELSE GIVES YOU. I will take drinks from Mr Wing, Dove, and Mr Dove, so long as I know they prepared them themselves or watched it being prepared, and I will drink things I’ve ordered in restaurants usually (though not always if I’m at a bar alone unless I can watch every step of it being made), and I realise I am little more paranoid than a lot of people, but c’mon! She doesn’t trust him anyway, why in the world would she drink something he gave her?!]
She then goes to find him to apologise – really? – and the room starts spinning. Charles drives her home, and she passes out in the back seat. She wakes up and he’s driving, claiming to be lost. Then the van fishtails, and comes to a halt. He claims a dog ran out in front of him. The van has sustained a flat tire and a missing hubcap. He starts looking for the missing hubcap. Really, Charles? My car has slowly been losing every single hubcap over the past year. It’s not the end of the world. Especially when you’ve got a minor in the back who is tripping balls – and you allegedly didn’t drug her.
[Wing: Hubcaps are important, Dove. They add to the aesthetics of the car.] [Dove: My car doesn’t have a balls-tripping minor in the back seat, and I’m still not that fussed about them.]
Ryan worries about the dog being hurt in the freezing cold and starts to look for it, which I’m sure Wing will approve of. Unfortunately, while searching, Charles drives off and leaves her. Accidentally, I’m sure.
[Wing: I do approve.]
Ryan tries to plot her next move but sees the ghost of her sister saying she can’t come home for Christmas because she’s dead. This is absolutely not a supernatural tale, so it’s probably a hallucination. She freaks, runs off, and falls face into a ditch.
[Wing: This time, I’ll let it go based on the drugs, but why is she hallucinating so much?]
Winchester saves her. YAY. I really don’t care. Oh hell, the dog really was real. It was Winchester’s dog. Winchester said his dog came home looking like he’d been hit, so Winchester went out to check that nobody else needed his help, because there’s not much traffic up this way.
So, Winchester lives in the middle of nowhere, is kind of a quiet guy and loves dogs. Wing will want to date him.
[Wing: And he wears tight jeans. Wing totally wants to date him, except for the part where he’s good with kids. Wing has no interest in that.]
They have a brief talk and he’s a lot less creepy than Charles. I mean, he did take off her clothes and leave them to dry by the fire, (he says he kept his eyes closed), but it’s moderately better.
[Wing: I’m pretty sure I wrote a sexy book with a similar premise.]
The next morning, when driving her home, Winchester’s dad seems to think she was drunk driving, thanks to Winchester telling his dad that she saw Marissa. That’s kind of a dick move, Winch. She wasn’t all “OMG, a ghost! It was totally a ghost! I believe in ghosts!”, she just explained how stressed and tired she was and she freaked out when she thought she saw Marissa. She’s naturally very stilted with Winch when she thanks him.
When she gets home, there’s a package on her bed. It contains the necklace Marissa was wearing when she died. She runs outside and then Charles grabs her.
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 1 (Cliffhanger endings of chapters for no reason other than to build false tension and piss me and Wing the hell off.)
Understandably, she fights but he pins her and says he’s been worried sick, he called the police, he looked for her, etc. (Mom and Steve are conveniently away. Because reasons.) She feels guilty and apologises to him. Then she asks how he had the necklace Marissa died wearing. But Charles says that Marissa left a big present, and he put it under the tree, not on her bed.
I guess part of what I hate about this book is that so much time is wasted on having people walk into scenes, only to walk out of them with no discernible reason. I have skipped a lot of phone calls or scenes that lead nowhere.
[Wing: Also, there’s never any calling the police back to let them know she came home. His lies are so easy to disprove, and yet she does nothing. I’ll give her a pass because she is shaken up and in deep mourning, but it is annoying as hell.]
Oh fuck, I’m bored. Bullet point time:
- She calls Phoebe. Phoebe isn’t home. She asks Jinx if he’ll pick her up. Jinx comes over to her house. He says that somebody snuck out of the house when he came in. He assumes it’s a secret boyfriend. She tells him everything that’s happened. Jinx fancies Ryan, not that she notices.
- Pages and pages of discussion, wherein Jinx doesn’t believe her and NOBODY FUCKING CARES, IT’S BORING.
- While searching for some money to give Jinx for gas, she finds a roll of film that needs developing, and remembers that Marissa was going to get it developed on the day she died. They drop it off at the drugstore.
- Phoebe comes home and they go for coffee. And Phoebe is fucking dead to me. She’s dropped dozens of hints that Charles should take Ryan to a dance because she wants to double date. Seriously, Phoebe, GTFO. [Wing: Phoebe is a terrible best friend.]
- Tires have been slashed. For some reason, despite this being the 90s, there are no public phones anywhere, so Phoebe has to walk to the drugstore to make a call. After waiting for ages, Ryan decides to look for her and is chased by Santa. No, really. But she falls over and Santa is no longer there. [Wing: That is a really good point about the public phones. They would have been pretty much on every corner!]
- They’re picked up by Winchester’s dad, and they’re waiting at the garage when Jinx shows up. He told his parents that Phoebe took his car and she’s grounded for life. They’re mad at each other and start yelling and Phoebe mentions Jinx’s crush on Ryan.
- At home, Steve says he checked on Charles. He’s an A-student. Probably true, but I bet Charles Eastman isn’t the same guy who’s staying in their house.
- She finds Charles ragging a locked drawer with a knife. Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 2 (+1)
- Charles says that he worked on the paper with Marissa and she’d stumbled onto a scandal, and it was really big, if she could find proof. If he’s an undercover cop I will scream my fucking head off. They realise that the camera film may have the proof and Marissa was murdered.
- Ryan goes to work. Freaks out, I don’t even care why, I skimmed it. Fairly sure ski mask dude was there. She breaks a glass to get out because the door is stuck and runs off.
- Jinx and his friends are at the garage, they’re dicks at first but panic when she’s covered in blood. He takes her to a hospital and everyone treats her like she self-harmed or made a suicide attempt, even Jinx. To be fair, she totally helps them think that by only talking in half-sentences like “It was the only way – nobody would help me–”. Despite all this, she’s allowed to go home, which is not what happens at all. Even in the 90s. [Wing: Not to mention, breaking through an entire door is not really how suicide attempts or self harm are done usually.]
- There’s a whole hunk of conversation I can’t even follow, but basically: Mom was supposed to pick her up, but she asked Charles to do it, Charles didn’t see Ryan there, but found the store with the smashed glass and assumed robbery, then Jinx called from the hospital. This upsets Ryan and I can’t figure out why, because it reads like it places Charles at the scene of the crime and oooh, what if he’s the Muffin Man, but she wants to speak to him, because she trusts him. WTF?
- And the big reveal of the chapter is that everyone thinks Ryan tried to kill herself. WTF? We’ve established all of this with the whole chapter of everyone going “Why did you do this to yourself?” Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN!: 3 (+1) FUCK THIS FUCKING BOOK IN THE FUCKING EAR. I HATE THIS. I HATE EVERYTHING.
- I’m not even bothering to recount all of Ryan’s dreams/hallucinations/ghostly interactions. Nope. [Wing: I think Cusick really wanted to write this as a supernatural story, but couldn’t.] [Dove: That would have been a much better book. I wonder if she’s better when she’s not writing to spec?]
- After a lot of soft-voiced pandering to the mentally frail Ryan (which makes both her and I angry), everyone leaves the girl they believe to be suicidal alone. Ryan calls the drugstore to ask if her photos are ready. They say a guy has already picked them up.
- She gets a call from a police officer saying they’ve found a body and need someone to identify the body as Marissa. Ryan volunteers. Yeah, fine, whatevs. It’s a setup. Don’t believe me? They want Ryan to come down to where they’ve fished her out of the river.
- Jinx calls, but Ryan doesn’t have time, she just blurts that she has to identify the body, and drops the phone. Jinx, like me, says, “hey, why no morgue?” but she’s already gone.
- She drives out to the middle of nowhere, is grabbed and thrown in a hole in a barn. I’ve never seen them in real life but I’ve seen this a lot in American horror movies.
- Charles is the bad guy. He’s been selling drugs. Marissa took photos. Not of Charles, he’s too clever, but of Steve. That’s what Marissa had been saying. Steve, not sleeve. Oh, and Mr Partini’s in on it too. [Wing: Pretty much every dude in this story is evil, or at least involved in the Muffin Man plot, except Jinx. And I love it.]
- Steve is now excited about having an obedient little wife after she loses both daughters… well, that characterisation came out of nowhere, didn’t it?
- Jinx is then flung into the hole covered in blood.
- OMG, WINCHESTER IS IN ON IT TOO. No wonder I couldn’t remember who the bad guy was. It’s EVERYONE. Winchester thought the deliveries were toys at first, then they threatened to hurt his family, so he’s just redeemable enough to do something to ensure Ryan and Jinx survive, I’m sure. [Wing: … I suppose I could still date him then.]
- Charles and Steve leave the one guy who doesn’t approve of their business to guard the hostages while they leave. Because REASONS. Winch then confides that he never wanted to hurt her, yes, it was a setup that Charles would leave her and Winch would find her, but he liked her for ages and that’s the only reason he went out with Marissa. Nice. How attractive. If Mr Dove was like, “Yeah, I asked out Wing so I could get to know you,” I’d be very repelled. [Wing: Yeah, I can’t imagine anyone thinking it would be a good idea to ask out one of my siblings so they could really get to know me. I would eviscerate them for it.] Winch gives them the keys to his truck and tells them to use the radio to contact the police.
- They run out but Charles catches them but doesn’t get to kill anyone because someone set the barn on fire. They get in the truck and drive off, while Steve and Charles – and possibly Mr Partini? – shoot at them.
- For REASONS they stop the truck. WHY???? And Charles – I think, this is so fucking confusing, as per all of Cusick’s finales – jumps in the back and thrusts his gun through the broken window and shoots at Jinx. And I can’t honestly figure out whether the gun backfired or whether Jinx got shot, since both Charles and Jinx appear to be injured.
- Suddenly: WINCHESTER.
- And it’s over, and now they’re driving to the police.
Holy motherfucking shitballs galoshes. I literally don’t know what happened there. Wing, you want to know why I hate this book? THIS. All of this. The stupid drugs plotline. The sudden Michael Bay homage with the finale. The fact that I can’t understand what went on during any of the action because Cusick writes action like me, which is to say: via reactive dialogue. This is absolutely an unequivocally the worst book Cusick has ever written. It is a boring bag of bollocks. I don’t care about anyone. I have no interest, no investment. This wasn’t scary, it was annoying. It was stupid. It was LONG. I’m fucked off. This piece of shit has wasted hours of my precious weekend. That’s why I hate it.
[Wing: I actually really enjoyed Ryan as a character, and how everyone was terrible, and the ridiculousness of the drug plot. The ending is really hard to follow, though, I agree. Cusick is terrible at description, and this needs a good sense of location and description to make things clear.]
- Also, there’s a sum up chapter at the end. Winchester will be a witness. Everyone else is going to prison. Jinx and Ryan are dating. Whatevs.
Also, I’m going to award a blanket 190 points to Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: to round it up to 200, because every time Jinx and Ryan speak, they use the word “crazy” a dozen times.
See rant above. I’m done.
[Wing: I liked this best of all the Cusicks we’ve done so far. Not that it was good, but I found it the most entertaining in the super-fast read through I did. Seriously, less than half an hour to read it all. That probably helped me enjoy it more.]
[Dove: Who are you and what have you done with Wing?]
Gimme a blindfold and some stupidity: 1
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 200
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1
Parents? What parents?: 1
This recap is sponsored by the WWE: 1