Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m delighted to share my review for Carol Balawyder’s page turning story about love, lust, crime and the innocent people who get caught in between in her noir thriller – Just Before Sunrise.
A coming-of-age story with a domestic noir twist.
Nadine, tired of running her call-girl agency has upgraded to gold digger as she finds the perfect rich widower to marry. Discovering that her wealthy widower is an abuser she seduces his stepson, Charlie, to plot her husband’s murder.
But things don’t go as planned and soon she is turning to her experience hiring young call-girls to find the perfect girl to save her from going to prison…
Homeless Maya is drifting on the streets, grieving the recent loss of her mother.
When she is offered the opportunity to prepare a lake-side house to be used as a half-way home for delinquent girls, she doesn’t think twice.
She soon falls for Charlie, the attractive boy next door, who has a seriously dark side. She is drawn into his murderous schemes, doing anything he asks her to, risking her own safety for the promise of a future with him. When she finds herself party to murder, and she realises he is more concerned with his older female accomplice than with her, she must learn to trust her instincts and use all of her courage to get out of their trap alive.
As a subplot there is the rocky romantic relationship between an older woman and a younger man who become involved in investigating the murder for which young Maya is accused of committing.
Just Before Sunrise is a story about loss and survival. About loneliness, betrayals and deadly desires.
My 5 Star Review:
This book begins with different people telling the story that seamlessly converges into a page-turning dark tale.
It begins with the relationship between Joni, a women’s homeless and abuse counselor, and her younger boyfriend Adam. Their relationship is like good friends with benefits with question marks about developing into more. The two love each other, but with Joni in her mid fifties, she isn’t keen on having kids, and Adam still in his thirties, struggles with not having any. He even contemplates marrying someone just so he can have children.
At this same time, we meet Nadine, an ex call girl who uses her beauty and wiley ways to meet men with money. She craftly meets wealthy Logan, at his wife’s funeral. Nadine pretends she was friends with his wife and wiggles into Logan’s life – with an end goal of marrying him.
Nadine moves in with Logan and his step son Charlie and soon hatches a plot of pretending to fall in love with the young Charlie so she can win his attention to help her set up her end goal plan of getting rid of Logan – a man they both despise.
The convergence of this story occurs when Joni meets Maya, a sixteen year old homeless girl. Joni has a cottage next door to Charlie’s parents’ summerhouse and decides to use her cottage as a safe house for homeless young women. When Joni takes Maya up to her cottage to help prepare the place, Maya befriends Charlie. Maya begins feeling a connection with Charlie as he shares stories with her about him being abused when he was younger, to win her sympathy so he can use her for a decoy later on with evil Nadine’s dirty plans.
After Nadine and Charlie’s plan to get rid of Logan take place, they find they are left with a money hungry brother of Logan’s that they need to get out of the way of their plans to have everything. As the plot thickens, poor Maya unknowingly becomes part of a sinister plan. The two evil doers snag in this innocent girl into their dark scheme in hopes to use her as a scapegoat for their insidious crimes.
In this story we’ll witness relationship awakenings, self-discoveries, and finally, regained self-worth by Maya, while Adam and Joni grow through searching for missing Maya and both finally realize what it is they really want out of life. No surprise the author, with her criminal psychology background, does a wonderful job of writing noir and getting us invested in her richly drawn characters and her lovely setting of Quebec, Ontario in this book that will keep you turning the pages.