Two genres I've become completely enamored with this year is crime fiction and psychological thrillers mostly because of Abby @crimebythebook on Instagram. To say she is inspiring would be a complete understatement. After she, and my good friend Patience, @inkandfable ,said they enjoyed White Bodies by Jane Robins I decided to give it a go.
I have such a range of emotions about this book. It began with a really great pace and had me intrigued enough where I turned each page eyes wide and mouth open with anticipation of getting even a sentence closer to what was actually happening in this story. Somewhere in the middle towards the very end it got EXTREMELY EXTREMELY slow. Yes I had to type that twice. I found myself huffing breaths of frustration reading unnecessary details that seemed to be there to stretch a not so strong plot.
I feel that this is one of those "has so much potential" books. I cry. A story encompassing the lives of two sociopathic twins could be epic, but it just fell short for me.
Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.
Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.
Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?
Where do I begin? Twin sisters Tilda and Callie's dysfunctional relationship is obvious from the very beginning. Throughout the story Robins injects flashbacks from their childhood that indicate their narcissistic, obsessive and compulsive behavior. Callie was insanely obsessed with her sister. She saw, in Tilda, something that she did not see in herself; beauty, confidence, star quality and the adoration of others. When they were young girls Callie would try to eat Tilda's things almost as if she consumed them so she, too, could be like her sister; to embody her seemingly redeemable qualities. Tilda in all of her self absorbed glory basks in her sisters obsession through their younger years and into adulthood.
Tilda is an actress; a fitting career for her personality type. She is married to Felix and not realizing the manipulative and conniving behavior of Tilda until later in the story, Felix is presented as controlling, short tempered and physically abusive to Tilda. Subsequently, Callie spends the majority of the story desperately wanting to discover the truth about her sister's relationship with Felix and protect her from him. She begins to frequent a website dedicated to supporting women who are in physically abusive relationships and befriends a shady character by the name of "Scarlet". Scarlet convinces Callie that Felix should be murdered after Calleie shares her sister's story on the site. She'll murder Felix if Callie murders her "abusive" and "drug addict" boyfriend Luke, an idea birthed from the film Strangers On the Train. Felix dies mysteriously in a hotel room and Scarlet convinces Callie that she did it and that Callie needs to return the favor.
The plot twist, which I didn't think was strong at all, is that Tilda was the mass manipulator. She manipulated Callie by leaving her cryptic letters as clues to make her think she was being abused by Felix. Tilda also connected with Scarlet at some point and here's where I honestly felt a bit lost. I was uncertain if Felix had met Scarlet on a "sex specialty" website and Tilda found out about it. Callie did not hold up her end of the bargain with Scarlet so "Scarlet" may or may not have murdered Luke herself. Fast forward, Scarlet ends up drowned in an LA pool where Tilda was but all in all, Tilda could be tied to the deaths of Scarlet, Luke and Felix's. She couldn't be directly connected through physical evidence but she was a socio-path void of human emotion and had manipulated her way to stardom by being connected to these murders which, in turn, made her more famous. This is what she was after all along because she lied about her failing career to her sister and to everyone. Tilda eventually confesses to Callie and Callie still obsessed and protective, lies naked with her in her hotel room as she prepares to film a movie in LA and listens to Tilda blueprint how diabolical she really is. She accepts her sister as the selfish and emotionally vacant human being she is vowing to never tell anyone the truth.
The story of twins is what really intrigued me to read this book. I knew there would be some obsessive behavior and an unconventional sister relationship. I like the idea of this bizarre and unhealthy relationship between them. I loved the overall tone and atmosphere of the story as well. This, for me, is a story of obsession; obsession with what is seen as perfection whether it's within another human being or an obsession with self, success and fame in addition to the lengths people will go to gain it. I thought that Tilda and Callie were very well developed characters, but this book just got way too slow for me to give a high rating.
My Rating 3/5