Saturday, 24 October 2009

Dream House by Valerie Laken

Tired of living in a dumpy apartment, Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a fixer-upper house in Ann Arbor, Michigan as an investment and an opportunity to rebuild their crumbling marriage. Little do they know, the house was the scene of a bloody murder 18-years earlier. When Kate discovers the history of the property, she decides to gut every room putting a deeper wedge in her marriage and driving her husband away.

After serving 18-years in the big house, Walker Price returns to Ann Arbor and his old neighborhood. With a little too much time on his hands, he hangs around his childhood home eventually befriending Kate as a handyman, while searching for his past.

Years ago, Jay Harrison worked for a company cleaning up after disasters and crimes. One rainy night 18-years ago, Jay pulled an all nighter patching bullet holes and mopping blood puddles in an old broken down house in Ann Arbor. Memories of the murder still haunt him.

Methodically, the author builds tension as Walker and Jay help Kate remodel her dream house. Slowly each character reveals their own secrets and relationship to the house leading to an unpredictable ending.

While the plot is moving and the ending climatic, Laken never fully develops any compelling relationships between the characters leaving readers a bit frustrated. She does address some societal issues on a broad scale such as neighborhood gentrification, race relations and family values.


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