Rating: 3.75 stars
Surfer boy Charlie and police officer Ness have a one-night stand and part, not to meet up again until the night Charlie crashed his car. Until that traumatic day Charlie has only been interested in casual relationships and days spent at the beach while Ness has been fighting with the nightmares and scars that remain from a past relationship gone horribly wrong. But on that day when Ness and his partner come across Charlie’s twisted wreck of a van, the lives of both men change forever. As Ness holds onto Charlie, the emergency team must amputate Charlie’s arm in order to free him from the twisted frame of his van.
When Ness visits Charlie in the hospital, a relationship is struck up between them. Charlie needs Ness in so many ways. To help him adjust to his new body and loss of his arm, to provide emotional support as Charlie works to accept the reality of his disability. Ness also needs Charlie’s love and faith to conquer his insecurities and doubts in starting another relationship and reaching out again after such a long time alone. But it is not just their fears and uncertainties they must overcome, but Charlie’s foster brother, Joey whose possessiveness and instability threaten all around him.
Suicide Point is interesting and successful on several levels but ultimately falls short in my opinion due to too many plots within one book. The main issue I see here is that the author has two great stories here. One story is that of Charlie’s traumatic accident, from his amputation,through his journey from shattered self image to one of self reliance, recovery and acceptance of his body. That plot line alone, along with starting a relationship with the man who helped rescue you and was present during the amputation, would have elevated Suicide Point into the 4 star category easily.
The second book contained inside Suicide Point is that of a thriller. Two men brought together by a life changing event are threatened by a person close to them, who not only plays cruel mental games with them but physically sets out to harm one or both men, a la Gaslight. The level of anxiety the author creates increases exponentially until the reader is constantly waiting for the next horror to occur. Separated, the stories are fine but together intwined, each fights for the reader’s attention and empathy until both suffer from an overload of angst and anxiety and a really satisfactory ending is lost.
The other issue here is that of characterization. Charlie is easily the most realistic character Leigh created. I really believed him, from the cocky surfer to the depressed amputee. Charlie grabbed my attention and my compassion. Ness Anderson was part of the problem though. He was weighted down with too much backstory. He had an unstable lover who shot him and then committed suicide. He is a police officer who works on RBDU, Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit. And yet even as Ness recognizes the dangers that Joey poses, he disregards his gut and intellectual feelings? I just never bought that. Ness came across as a much less authentic character and that took away from the story. I think he was most successful as a character during the time he was helping Charlie adjust to life as an amputee, after that the realism faded. Their layered relationship seemed to have a realistic foundation as Charlie went through the known stages of grief for his past life and body. Joey, however, made a very credible damaged kid. A unstable child, his fixation on his foster brother turns him into a menace that no one wants to recognize, a personality often seen in the news today in shattering detail.
To recap, there is much to admire about Suicide Point and the author’s ambitious goals for this book. Sometimes less really is more and Suicide Point could have used a divider so that both stories could have gotten the attention they deserved. I look forward to more from this gifted author. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Cover: Reese Dante’s cover is fine except for the font. While I get the idea of a red (bloody) messy font, it’s not necessary and a cleaner font would have been much better.