I had promised to review Terry Hayman's novel, Jessica Falls, but as the story drew me into its web, I was having trouble figuring out how to communicate with my readers. To begin with, Jessica Falls is not your usual plain vanilla mystery. I didn't know how to describe the book--until I ran across a quote from the protagonist/narrator, Weston Long. His own words pretty much told the story:
"...a big part of why I was still here, now chased and threatened by gun-wielding types, was because I needed to understand what made Jessica Pollard tick. What made her who she was that she could twist me around her baby finger? What gave her that power? Or maybe it was just part of my own psychic Dumpster diving. I needed to go deep into her decadence to understand the dark patches of my own soul."
I don't know how women readers will respond to this story, but as a man, I responded to virtually every page with memories of that mysterious beautiful woman who "could twist me around her baby finger." Like Wes Long, I endured beatings (both physical and psychological) as I pursued my own "Jessica." But unlike Wes, I didn't have to contend with every crime in the book: murder, embezzlement, fraud, rape, assault, drug dealing, incest, and even cruelty to animals.
No, Jessica Falls is not a comfortable story, but it's one you won't be able to put down until both you and Wes have learned about "the dark patches" in your own soul.