Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 24, 2014
Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.
But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.
Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.
Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of this gripping psychological thriller from the William C. Morris Award-winning author of Charm & Strange.
Complicit is Stephanie Kuehn’s excellent follow-up to her excellent debut, Charm & Strange. Both novels feature some similar characteristics: a male POV exhibiting some psychological issues, past physical and/or emotional trauma, a big twist, a gut-punch of an ending, and Kuehn’s beautiful writing style. This time, though, I was not surprised by the twist. I thought it was telegraphed quite clearly at several points, and because I’d read Charm & Strange, I was already on the lookout. But figuring out the twist in no way hindered my enjoyment of the book, because it is about so much more than just trying to shock the reader. (Unlike some other books – cough – We Were Liars – cough.) It also in no way prepared me for the shocking ending.
Jamie has a rags to riches story that is nothing to be envied. He and his sister were adopted by a wealthy, caring couple, but not before they suffered through witnessing the shooting murder of their mother. When they were very young, Jamie was the odd, misbehaving child, and his sister, Cate, was the adorable angel. When they become teenagers, the roles switch: Cate is a convicted arsonist, and Jamie is the golden child. Complicit takes us back in time to unravel how Jamie and Cate became the people they are today.
Jamie’s world is upended when Cate is released from her jail term and begins to contact him. Her communications are mysterious, ominous, and vaguely threatening. We don’t know what Cate ‘s goals are any more than Jamie does. Is she just trying to torment Jamie, or does she want to cause him physical harm? Even if you figure some things out early on, you’re still going to be affected by the full reveal. When I compare this ending to that in Charm & Strange, I’d say that Charm & Strange is the more heart-breaking one. Complicit, on the other hand, is eerie and more than a little frightening. I WANTED to read more to help me wrap my head around what had just happened, but I cannot argue that Kuehn did not leave her story in exactly the right place.
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.