I Know Where You Live
reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven
I am a huge fan of Gregg Olsen. Washington is my adopted state and I love to read books that take place here. I devour every book he writes and this is no exception. A Young woman, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, gets her revenge by looking up predators online and making sure they pay for what they did. This is a riveting novel about bad parenting, secrets and most importantly, revenge.
Violet Manfred has a lot going on. She has just married the love of her life; she has an exciting career, and her grandfather, known as Papa, passed away at her wedding. Violet isn’t sad but grateful. This isn’t a terrible loss. She didn’t want him there and had specifically asked that he not come, which was ignored. And then he has the audacity to have a seizure at her wedding. She is relieved. He was a horrible man who molested her decades ago, though no one including her parents would believe her or acknowledge the molestation. Now that he is gone, she feels a sense of relief and lightness. But what else can she do to make sure no one else suffers the pain she has endured for years? What if she helps eliminate the other predators who roam free? It’s an interesting concept.
When Violet joins a sexual assault support group, a fellow member encourages her to redress the balance for other victims. Because she feels freed by her Papa’s death, she hopes that by eliminating other predators, she can free others from the nightmare of having their abusers walk free. She begins by hunting down the predators that are close by, eliminating one while she is on a business trip two hours away from her home. One by one, she finds predators who have served their time and eliminates them, enjoying a strange sense of empowerment that she is ridding the world of these horrible men. But clearly, committing multiple murders has consequences and as the bodies pile up, so do the lies, and Violet loses track of what is a lie and what is the truth.
I Know Where You Live is heavy. Not in the sense of If You Tell, but with equally disturbing subject matter. Olsen describes, in detail, experiences with sexual assault and molestation, which may hit people a little too hard. It can be tense and uncomfortable to read but the author has a story to tell, and he does it eloquently. Trauma and revenge are never easy subjects and what added to the tension is that Violet is not really a likable character, though with good reason. Someone can ask the question of whether her acts were vengeful or virtual? I really enjoyed this book, though most of the characters, with the exception of Violet’s sister, were not decent people.
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