Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Literally the Best Reviews: Mr Tender's Girl

Mr. Tender’s Girl - Carter Wilson
Poisoned Pen Press
400 Pages

Back in January, I reviewed another book by Carter Wilson, The Dead Girl in 2A. When I read that book, I felt that I needed to read more books by Wilson. Just before the pandemic shut down my local library, I was able to check out Mr Tender’s Girl by Mr. Wilson. I was hoping this novel would be just as enjoyable as the first book I had read. I was not disappointed.

When Alice Hill was fourteen, she was brutally attacked by a pair of classmates and left for dead. Incredibly, she is saved by a mysterious stranger who happened to be nearby when she was attacked. The girls who tried to murder her claimed she was to be a sacrifice for Mr. Tender, a comic book villain. Ironically, it was Alice’s own father who invented the Mr. Tender character. 

Over the next decade, Alice has moved with her mother and brother to the United States and has changed her name to escape her dark past. She can never escape the scars of that night, either physical or mental. And now, even though she thinks she’s safe from the shadows of her attack, someone is watching her, someone who knows her secret.

Alice lets her paranoia take control, which in this case, is a good thing. There is someone out there who knows so much about her past. Is it the guy who lives upstairs? Is it one of the people coming in and out of her coffee house? With her mentally ill brother, she vows to get to the bottom of the strange messages she’s received. However, instead of helping, her family becomes much more of a liability. Who can she trust? Can she actually trust anyone?

When she gets to the bottom of the mystery, her whole world is turned upside down. Much of what she thought was true turns out to be lies. Her family has kept secrets since before she was born and changed her entire outlook on everything she thought she knew. Sometimes it's the people closest to you end up causing you the most pain and grief.

Carter Wilson has written another psychological thriller that will keep you wondering. More so than The Dead Girl in 2A, Mr. Tender’s Girl will keep you guessing. The earlier review pointed out that there were some secrets that were telegraphed. We do not have that with this book. At several points, I thought I had suspicions, but they all ended up incorrect and unfounded. At the very end, the big reveal was a huge “Oh, my!” moment. 

Wilson has crafted his main character very well. Alice is paranoid and gun shy after her attack, even a decade later. She jumps at shadows and has a hard time trusting people. Her interest is piqued when she gets the first message, and then the character gets jumpy. The fear and intrigue is palpable. When we finally get to the antagonist, the development throughout the book is superb. That character is diabolical. The planning throughout, even though the identity is not known, is precise and careful. Together, these characters drive forward a page-turner.

I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed The Dead Girl in 2A, if not more. Carter Wilson is an excellent author, leading the reader through a myriad of twists and turns, hooking the reader into keep turning the pages. Before you know it, the book is done, and you’re wanting more. Whenever the library reopens, I will have to search out any of the other books by Wilson. I hope to see more books written by him. Mr. Tender’s Girl definitely hooked me.

Craig Bacon loves books that make him think and doubt his thoughts about the narrative.