Author: Kylie Kaden
Bantam Australia RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Mystery and romance combine in Kylie Kaden’s debut novel Losing Kate, a suspenseful and worthy debut novel. I love a good suspense read, one that keeps me guessing the whole way through, and for the most part, that’s exactly what Losing Kate did. Why for the most part? I had inkling about something fairly early and was pleased to see that my inkling was correct. Kaden does a great job leading the reader a merry dance, so don’t worry, it’s not that obvious. I must have had my intuition turned way up.
Recovering from a break-up, 30-year-old Frankie lives alone in a dilapidated house; right now her focus is on slowly renovating her house and her life. That plan hits a bump when Jack, a former high school crush she hasn’t seen for years, buys the vacant lot behind her with intentions of building a house there. Suddenly the safe sanctuary she has built around her is breached, because seeing Jack again stirs up memories of the days she has long buried – memories involving her best friend, Kate, who went missing one night at the beach. Losing Kate turned Frankie’s world upside down – not only did she lose her best friend, whose body was later found, but she lost the young man she loved when he moved away with his family. Frankie has never believed Jack was responsible for Kate’s death, not even when she lied to police to protect him, but seeing him again has stirred up a need for closure – a need to find out what really happened to Kate. Only then, can Frankie live a life free of guilt and questions.
Losing Kate is told through the eyes of Frankie and alternates between flashbacks and the present, slowly revealing more dimensions to the story. Love triangles, betrayal, mental illness all play a part in the flashbacks, adding to the tension; the more information is revealed, the more suspicion is inferred … only for the next flashback to raise more questions. In the present, Jack and Frankie’s reacquaintance is complicated by the fact that Jack has a partner and a child; this adds another layer of tension, both from the romantic perspective as Jack and Frankie realise that their feelings are unresolved, and from a relational perspective as Jack’s partner gets involved. Even Jack having a child and Frankie being childless adds tension (although this is more on Frankie’s part and barely explored).
Structurally, there’s a lot to tie together and Kaden does a good job; I was left with a few questions, however, and not entirely convinced by the ending (there was closure, but was it realistic closure, from the emotional perspective of some of the other characters?). I guess that’s the part of the story we have to guess at – the what-happens-next question. In terms of building tension, Kaden was spot on and despite my early suspicion being proved correct, I was still on tenterhooks, second-guessing myself the whole way.
Although Losing Kate is built around the mystery of what happened to Kate, there’s another layer as well, which I mentioned earlier. Without wanting to spoil things, Kaden dips into the topic of mental illness, its impact and its danger. Sometimes a person can be lost before they are gone forever. I’ve experienced that … and I felt for the character’s mother.
Clever plotting, well-developed characters and multi-layered tension results in a solid debut for Kaden in Losing Kate. I’m looking forward to reading more from her and think she has a great future as a contemporary writer. I read Losing Kate as part of a blog tour and my review is third on the tour. To read Bree’s review, click here. The next review after mine, posted April 4, will be by Roz from My Written Romance.
Losing Kate is available from good bookstores and Random House Australia. My copy was courtesy of Random House via NetGalley.
Bookish treat: Reading about the beach, sun and sand made me wish for an Icy Pole. Just like Frankie, I’m having a flashback!
Great review Monique – I’m currently bouncing between 3 books (not sure if that’s a good idea) and Losing Kate is one of them!
I often bounce between books, depending on what they’re like. I tend to read memoirs in chunks so will often have a fiction novel on the go as well. However, some books take all my attention!
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