Hush by Kate White

September 3, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): Forty-something Lake Warren is going through some tough times. She is in the process of getting divorced from husband Jack, and is unsure of what this will mean for her and her two children. Moreover, Jack has now decided to sue for full custody of the kids, which wasn’t what they agreed to. This means Lake needs to be on her best behavior, try not to melt down, and show the lawyers that she is fully capable of earning enough money to support the kids.

The way Lake earns her money is as a marketing/PR consultant. Her current client is a Manhattan fertility clinic that needs an image overhaul, particularly since stories like OctoMom out in California make people distrust these types of places. While Lake is there, she meets Dr. Mark Keaton, a George Clooney-like playboy who flirts with Lake relentlessly. She gives in to Keaton’s advances (because hey, it’s been a while), and has sex with him at his apartment. Afterward, she heads out to the terrace to enjoy the view, where she promptly falls asleep until morning.

Upon returning to the bedroom, Lake discovers a ghastly scene: Mark has been brutally murdered. His throat was slashed and there is blood everywhere. Lake knows how this would look to the police, so instead of calling 911, she hightails it out of the place and hopes the cops won’t learn she was there.

The next day, news of Dr. Keaton’s murder circulates at the clinic, as investigators come in to question everyone. A paranoid Lake is convinced the cops will learn she was at Keaton’s apartment on the night he was murdered, so she decides the only way to save herself (and have a shot at maintaining custody of the kids) is to track down the murderer herself.

The rest of the novel then follows Lake as she digs into Keaton’s personal and professional lives, hoping to find something that can point her to the killer’s identity.

Liked:

  • The basic setup had promise. To be honest, it reminded me a bit of the first season of the TV show Damages, where the heroine wakes up in an apartment with a dead body and doesn’t remember what happened. This book had the potential to be a good story.
  • The reveal that the fertility clinic was basically giving away embryos without the parents’ consent was sufficiently chilling and creepy. Too bad the author DID NOTHING with that storyline and chose instead to make it one big red herring.

Disliked:

  • I didn’t think White did a good job of building and maintaining tension throughout the book. It really felt as though Lake would have been safe if she simply left the whole thing alone. Someone shaved her cat… so what? If that was intended as a warning, then all she had to do was back off the investigation. It didn’t seem as though there was any pressure from the police, either. She was getting rattled by routine questions, but the cops never had anything concrete on her that would place her at the scene of the crime. Also, most writers add to the body count at some point (because doing so elevates the stakes), but White chose not to. Again, this was a mistake because I didn’t get the sense that Lake was truly in danger.
  • The writing was downright amateurish at times, featuring godawful sentences like the following: “With her free hand, Lake ran her hand roughly through her hair.” Huh? How about a simple, “Lake ran her free hand roughly through her hair?” Where are the editors these days?
  • While White did a relatively good job of masking the killer’s identity throughout, I felt cheated after learning that Rory was the culprit. Really? A woman in her fifth or sixth month of pregnancy did all that damage? I know women are still mobile at that stage, but let’s get real here. That final fight in Rory’s basement was particularly high on the ridiculousness scale. It was as though White deliberately chose the least likely person and thought to herself, “Oh, wouldn’t it be a great twist to make her the killer?!” Cue eyeroll.
  • White didn’t do much to differentiate the various personalities at the clinic. I couldn’t tell one doctor from another even at the very end of the book, and had trouble keeping anyone’s name straight. They were all just random folks holding a variety of health care jobs at a fertility clinic as far as I was concerned. In other words, character development was severely lacking.
  • I hated the detours that took Lake to the kids’ camp two or three times in the novel. Way to lose any momentum that might have been built in the main plot! When writers willingly wander off track like this, it’s a sign that they’re simply looking to beef up the page count because the main story isn’t solid enough to stand on its own.

Rating:

Hush by Kate White is something I just grabbed from the library one day because the blurb on the back sounded fairly interesting. However, I was disappointed by the lack of urgency and tension that are necessary to the success of a “thriller”, and won’t be checking out any of White’s other works any time soon. This book doesn’t even have enough entertainment value to warrant an average rating, so I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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