Shattered by Donna Ball: review

ShatteredShattered by Donna Ball

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A missing teenage girl… a desperate mother… a frantic call in the night… is this a cruel hoax, or the work of a maniacal serial killer?

The peaceful resort town of St. Teresa-by-the-Sea on Florida’s Forgotten Coast is known for its low crime rate, pristine beaches, and great fishing. But tragedy can come even to Paradise, as Carol Dennison found out two and a half years ago when her fourteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, disappeared on her way to a Tallahassee concert. Now, just as Carol as beginning to rebuild the pieces of her shattered life, she receives a midnight call from someone who calls her “mama” and begs for help. Is this a cruel prank designed to terrorize and punish Kelly’s father for the role he played in bringing a recently paroled criminal to justice? Or is it possible that Kelly is still alive?

A grim investigation uncovers a connection between Kelly and other girls who have gone missing along the Gulf Coast in the past few years. When the body of one of those missing girls washes up on the shores of St. Teresa-by-the-Sea, the police are forced to admit they may have a serial killer in their midst. And with over three thousand college students poised to descend on the tiny community for spring break, their only hope for stopping him before he strikes again is the frightened voice of a teenage girl on the telephone… and the desperate determination of the parents who love her.

Shattered is Donna Ball at her best: spine-tingling terror, chilling realism and unforgettable characters. No parent will ever watch her child leave the house in the same way again.

View all my Goodreads reviews

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I received a kindle copy of Shattered after responding to an announcement on goodreads by Donna Ball that she was looking for reviewers for her latest book. Having read (and reviewed) several of Donna’s other books, I was delighted when Donna accepted my offer.

Shattered lived up to my expectations and is a tense “who-done-it” with lots of twists and turns. I felt the psychological effects on the victims were extremely well portrayed.

If I have any niggles about Shattered, they are minor. I felt that, in the first part of the book, we were told too many times, in almost the same words, how animosity-filled had been Carol and Guy’s divorce: I got it the first time; I was fed of hearing about it by the third time. I didn’t feel retelling it added to the story but rather slowed down the pace of the beginning of the book.

For a while, I had two main suspects in mind, and then we learnt more about them and this for me narrowed it down to my “favourite” suspect. This doesn’t mean the culprit was signposted and flagged, far from it: Donna’s clues were very subtly laid. I love crime and mystery stories however, and enjoy trying to beat the characters to working out the solution. This does mean I was mentally yelling “No, don’t do it!” to various characters. One thing I didn’t work out was the culprit’s lair – the clues are in the text, but I didn’t pick them up.

The various threads of the characters’ – both major and minor – lives are beautifully interwoven, resulting in a tapestry of a story that needs to be read more than once to find all the clues as they first appear.

I particularly enjoyed that the story changes viewpoint regularly – that way the reader gets to see much more of the action. This technique adds to the tension for the reader as we can see the pitfalls and traps ahead of characters and thus can will them not to fall in, whilst suspecting that they will do so anyway.

I thought the end of the book particularly moving, although I was surprised that the women didn’t press their advantage with the chain when given the opportunity. When this made its appearance, it was my first thought for its use! Donna, however, gives her characters an alternative course of action and the epilogue gives closure on this point.

So in summary: buy Shattered! It is a little slow to start, with an element of repetition, but once the suspense starts to build and the status quo is challenged, it is a tense page-turner.

Thank you, Donna, for giving me the opportunity to review this book.  I hope that Shattered gains the critical and commercial success due to it.

Amazon Link

I’m claiming this book as No. tbc/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge. [Link in right hand sidebar]

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