Review

The Lonely Places

by J. M. Morris



Reading through this fast-paced tale, I found myself going from
"Hm" to "What? That doesn't make any sense" to "Oohhh!" and back
around to "Hm" as the novel wound up. My thoughts segued from one
to another. The instant I believed I had it figured out, the story
took a deliciously sharp turn and plunged me deeper into the
mystery. I couldn't put it down until I knew what was what, and
that didn't happen until the last chapter. "Psychological suspense"
doesn't begin to describe THE LONELY PLACES.

Ruth Gemmill is recovering from a bad relationship. A very bad
relationship. The kind of bad relationship that can leave not only
emotional scars, but serious physical scars. Physical scars that
can prove fatal.

Ruth's ex-boyfriend Matt enjoys having control over his women. And
he abhors losing that control. When Ruth breaks his hold on her and
struggles to reclaim her independence, Matt redoubles his efforts
to get her back. If nothing else, he doesn't want her
leaving him. Fortunately for Ruth, her brother Alex steps in
to buoy her resolve, keep her from faltering and support her in
whatever way necessary. He has always been there for Ruth, has
always fought beside her, has always walked her through the rough
spots.

Too soon, however, Alex is gone, and Ruth, desperate for his
comfort, travels to Greenwell, the northern England town he moved
to in order to take a teaching position. But now he has
disappeared. As she attempts to find her brother, Ruth discovers
horrors buried deep in the hateful village, and in her head. Things
in Greenwell aren't quite right. The townspeople are mistrustful
and hostile, building barriers instead of crumbling them. Their
reticence hampers her hunt for the truth. Nothing seems to get Ruth
closer to Alex. To make matters worse, glimpses of Matt so far from
home cast doubt on her safety and her stability. Efforts to enlist
the aid of the local constabulary bring suspicion her way rather
than garner help. She finds herself facing the situation very much
alone.

Ruth's search leads her through a maze of emotions as well as
streets, unlocking mental doors as well as hardwood ones. She
wanders roads, groping to find her way in hopes of figuring out
what has happened to her brother. Memories loom. Some assault her,
others fade. Rich, full characters guide us through the landscape
of Ruth's mind. And Ruth's mind is interesting indeed. With a
humorless father in her background, she nonetheless manages a wry
wit. Open yet naïve, she makes an honest examination of her
faults and shortcomings. She has a lot of healing to do.

Be forewarned --- THE LONELY PLACES contains scenes of pedophilia
and rape. However, it isn't just another story about abuse. It's
about recovery. It's about regaining oneself after a
life-shattering blow. It's about what trauma can do to the
psyche.

Don't underestimate this novel. It's not as simple as it initially
appears on its face. And it's as entertaining as it is
complex.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011

The Lonely Places
by J. M. Morris

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Psychological Suspense
  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 038533608X
  • ISBN-13: 9780385336086