There are psychological thrillers and then there are books that dive deep into the psychology of the characters; into trauma, and the deep pits that therapy and grief can dig. Alice Blanchard drags the readers into the pit with A Breath After Drowning, a thriller that—while not terribly original—is as close to perfect as it can get in this genre.
Katie Wolfe works as a child psychologist, a fitting profession for someone whose sister was brutally murdered. The opening chapters, which involve the suicide of a tortured teen, rip a wound in the reader’s mind that is never given a chance to heal. Almost immediately afterward she’s given another case, a teen whose troubles might lead Wolfe into waters too deep and black for her to survive.
Every character seems to be tied somehow to her past, through either the murder or her turbulent upbringing. Henry Blackwood sits on death row for the murder, yet his family remains in town, suffering for the sins that may or may not have been passed down through them. How Wolfe teams up with the retired detective who still lives with the case is worth the price of the book itself.
To reveal more would give away one of the many serpentine plot twists that deepen as the story unfolds. Definitely an author to follow, Blanchard chisels characters that darken with each layer.
Reminiscent of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, with the rawness of Stephen King’s suspense novels, this one’s highly recommended for anyone craving a thriller that will leave a scar.