“Everybody makes mistakes…Everybody stumbles.
It’s what you do then that makes or breaks your life.
It’s what you do after you fall that’s the measure of
who you are.”
Ophelia March made many mistakes and stumbled many times. She was a
child whose parents didn’t know what to do with her. Neither
one of them particularly wanted a child, and it showed. Her father,
“a tattoo artist and a pathological liar,” abandoned
his family early on. Her mother was in a constant search for love,
eventually finding it in serial killer Frank Geary, a man sitting
on death row. Once she professed her love for Frank, her
life’s goal was to win a new trial for him and prove his
innocence. Ophelia was, as always, pushed aside.
Young Ophelia went through the motions of day-to-day living, numb
to the world and embarrassed by her mother. She could not
understand why any woman would tie herself to a condemned man by
choice. Frank was convicted of killing many women, wrongly if you
were to ask him. Of course, Ophelia believed otherwise, scared for
herself and for her mother. She worried that her mother might be
successful in her quest to have Frank released. Then who would be
Despite Ophelia’s desperate pleas, her mother allowed
Frank’s son, Marlowe, to move in with them. Once Marlowe had
a foot in the door, he began manipulating the two women. This was
the turning point, the point where Ophelia might have gotten out
without stumbling, but she made a choice --- the wrong one --- and
sealed her destiny.
A cunning young man with a malevolent personality, Marlowe saw an
opportunity in the vulnerable Ophelia. He claimed her as his. Even
years later, she hears his haunting mantra: You belong to me.
Finally, the only way out that she can see is for her to die, so
that’s what she does. Fortunately, her death isn’t
In fact, many things aren’t real. For one, her name. She has
become Annie Powers, a woman who married her rescuer and is living
in a beautiful home overlooking the shore, a mother herself now.
Everything about her present life screams success and happiness.
But not everything is as it seems. When Annie starts seeing signs
from her past that Marlowe, a man reportedly long dead, is stalking
her, she wonders if it can be real. Marlowe was a man not to be
denied. Would even death stop him?
Her panic attacks start to recur. She has had them
before, but this time it’s different. She can’t
seem to shake off this eerie foreboding. Annie's husband,
Gray, cherishes her, and he has the means to ensure her safety.
Money, survival skills and contacts will go a long way toward
keeping Annie alive. Those things and therapy.
It seemed inevitable that, one night, the police would be called to
the Powers home. A prowler is spotted. A detective named Harrison
heads the investigation. He is like a bulldog with a bone, and he
has as sensitive a nose for a bad smell. To Harrison, something
stinks. And to Annie, so does Harrison. She doesn’t know
whether to trust him or not. Instinct tells her one thing one day
and another the next.
When it comes down to it, Annie has to trust herself. But
it’s hard to do when she isn’t sure what’s real
and what's manipulated. She makes a decision. “You cannot
cage the demons --- they just rattle and scream and thrash until
you can’t ignore them any longer. You must face them
eventually.” Facing her demons may mean the death she avoided
so long ago, but she has a family to protect, and she will not fail
her daughter like her own mother failed her.
BLACK OUT is bestselling author Lisa Unger’s third novel
(following BEAUTIFUL LIES and SLIVER OF TRUTH) and is bound to be a
sure hit. In it, she has written literature that is,
coincidentally, a thriller, with more twists than a cage full of
snakes. Right about the time that you think you know what’s
going on, the story takes another angle. Hold on
tight…it’s a scary ride!
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on December 22, 2010