STEPFORD, USA - A Mystery By Lada Ray - Book Review
Book review by J.J.Collins
This first instalment by Author - Lada Ray introduces us to brilliant investigative journalist - Jade Snow. Jade Snow we learn, is a twenty eight year old all action investigative journalist used to dodging straying bullets in Afghanistan, before a near death experience throws her into the arms of her soon to be husband Paul. What Jade doesn’t realise is that her days of investigative journalism and an all action career are about to come to an abrupt halt when motherhood dawns or is it?
This thriller is set in the sleepy surroundings of Stepford, Massachusetts, a small town community in America that hides a deep dark secret. Jade finds herself in this sleepy town against her wishes following her husband’s insistence on finding her a nice, quiet and calm environment for her to remain fit and well during her pregnancy. Jade Snow we learn is no ordinary young mum to be. It is not long before her inquisitive mind and investigative instincts, lead her onto the trail of a devastating dark hidden secret within the community. A crime so horrendous and brutal, it lives on in the lives and happenings of this sleepy hallow even until the present day.
Jade’s loneliness and love of quality company finds her being introduced, and soon becoming part of the social set-up of this most picturesque of American town’s. The intimate circle of six women Jade would join, unbeknown to her, will transform her time in Stepford from a peaceful relaxing stay into an intriguing web of lies, deceit and mystery. The pursuit of the truth will not only put Jade Snow and the life of her unborn child in grave danger, it will have a profound impact on the lives and community of this most fascinating of small towns for years to come.
This story of a horrific crime, a victim, an accused person and powerful local interests, desperate to keep the truth hidden from the larger world, only makes Jade Snow throw off her restrictive temporary physical shackles and risk all, to unravel the truth. The pursuit of truth among the complex personalities of this town, and an eagerness for someone to keep it hidden at all costs makes the challenge appear impossible.
Stepford USA takes us on a journey with this charming, sharp minded young journalist in a race to reveal the truth before someone else is killed, will Jade succeed? Can she protect herself and the life of her unborn child? Who can she trust? Anyone? Will she manage to discover the facts before it costs someone their life or even her own?
On the face of it, Stepford is a thriving small town community the likes of which are splattered across the American continent however, the deceit and manipulation facing Jade threatens not just people, it threatens the very way of life of this beautiful town. Undeterred, Jade Snow takes us on a gripping, dark psychological adventure, where unrealised talents may be the difference between life and death for Jade and others.
Does the answer to the secret rest within the group of six ladies “Knitting Club”? All women of varying ages and loyalties. We are introduced to Lady Adelaide Paphos, an elegant motherly like lady, who develops a fondness and close bond with Jade during her time in Stepford. Her son Jason who harbours a long held secret. Then a chance lunch time meeting with the power players of the local community that introduces us to the young police chief – Chief Nordini, Judge Bowman, Lawyer Marc Catcham, Banker Peter Burns and the quiet Jack Maloof. These men all with varying interests and knowledge of the comings and goings of the town extend an invitation to the elite Rotary Club to Jade. How will this innocent invitation propel Jade into an even more intricate web of unimagined deceit?
Jade’s investigative journey takes us to a “Hidden Lake”, a chance encounter with a friendly neighbour and his dog, a virtual reality experience and observing one of the married town influencer's groping a woman out of sight of others. How does all this relate to the truth? Can it be found and who is watching Jade’s every move?
This page turning thriller is exciting, full of suspicion and possesses excellent character development throughout. It challenges the reader to consider the glaringly obvious and not so obvious, reality and challenge their own perceptions of reality and illusion in the pursuit of destroying the prejudices found in every small town. Will Jade and her soon to be born baby survive the small town experience?
The author has managed to develop a character with a fascinating thoughtful purpose. The brilliant combination of plot, character development and unexpected twists and turns, keeps the reader addicted to the next turned page. Once you start reading this book, you will not put it down such is the perfect pace and flow of words in which the book is written by the author.
Psychological thrillers don’t get much better than this. Excitingly and yet chillingly gripping, it’s the sort of plot line that surprises you at every turn and absolutely does not let you go.
A highly recommended read for anyone.