“A life Daddy. I want a life. A good one this time.”
Charlie smiled to himself and pulled out the little yellow knife with a sailboat on it, and handed it to Matthew. “No, this is a wiggily life. I want the life that doesn’t wiggle.”
You can’t help but immediately feel a connection to Charlie Eames, his wife Mary Elizabeth Eames and their adorable son Matthew from the very beginning of Martha Randolph Carr’s novel, Wired. Carr’s conversational and familiar writing style takes you to the heart of the home within the first few chapters. Set in a rural community of small town America, in 1989, this struggling marriage is not unlike so many families we see today. Charlie and Mary Elizabeth were high school sweet hearts, shuffling along life’s unpaved road for fifteen years, laboring to travel together. They seem lost and disconnected from each other. It is clear that their marriage has been failing for years, and that each spouse is only going through the motions.
When Mary Elizabeth was feeling kindly toward him, she admitted to herself that he was big and sweet and when she wasn’t, she was sure he was stupid.
He (Charlie) watched her lift her shirt over her head and flip her hair back and felt a sadness that spread through him. He didn’t really know this woman and he couldn’t bring himself to try harder or to hate her.
At first glance, this novel is about a husband and wife trying to find their way back to each other. Mary Elizabeth is privately battling past demons; horrors only alluded to in small doses to keep the reader questioning what could have happened to her twenty years earlier. We are left wondering what was so life altering, following her into her adulthood and into her marriage. Early in the story, she says to herself, “Less of me exists every year”, a sinking feeling I think many stay at home moms can relate. Charlie is a small business owner, oblivious to the true needs of his wife, perhaps even content to live in ignorance. He appears to just allow life to happen around him, rather than really be a part of anything. Another pivotal character in this novel is Douglas, an older black man that works for Charlie. He is the voice of reason, an unexpected father figure and a true friend to the Eames family. Each of these characters must make a personal journey, exploring their perspective about life, love and friendship through a series of hard decisions, heartbreak and honesty.
I think what makes this book so entertaining is its multifaceted story line. Carr combines a raw description of life and marriage with a brutal series of murders and the journey to solve these crimes. Clues are dropped cleverly throughout each conversation, interaction, character and scene description in a very Alfred Hitchcock kind of way. The reader doesn’t even realize that they have been gifted important insight into future events. Several times, I had an “a-ha” moment, recalling a previous passage that suddenly became very relevant, like a harmless nickname or nervous twitch. Carr also does a great job of throwing the reader a few distractions, so that the true killer and unresolved secrets are not revealed too quickly, allowing the reader time to savor each plot development.
Although a minor character, Douglas’ sister Thelma became my favorite. She brought an element of whimsy and joy to an otherwise dark and depressing plot. I found myself wanting to get to know her better, learn more of her story and understand what made her so desirable. Her relationship with her brother and Charlie was both believable and necessary in order for each of these men to gain personal growth and maturity. In Thelma, I saw optimism and the possibility of a fruitful future, something all of the main characters were in search of, reminding me of Matthew’s sweet way of calling a knife, a life and Charlie’s response of, “I want the life that doesn’t wiggle.”
I could relate to many of the characters in this novel. It is not hard to imagine a stay at home mom searching to find her identity or a husband hoping that ignorance will be bliss. Prejudices and prejudgments about people’s skin color, economic background, religion or politics is always a struggle, which has been evident throughout history, as well as in this book. And perhaps, one of the most unfortunate and believable elements of this novel is the ease in which the killer was able to lure his victims. As a parent of two girls, it definitely gave me something to think about in regards to talking to my children about being safe.
It was also surprising how easily Carr was able to weave together the perspectives of so many different characters without confusing the reader. And it was refreshing how she manipulated romantic scenes in a way that was sexual without being obscene, as well as reveal certain sexual elements of the murders without being overly graphic. Carr allowed just enough exposure in each situation to be either stimulating or heartbreaking, but never uncomfortable. The story line unraveled quickly and did not waste time with unimportant details. This book was a very fast read, and definitely worth recommending to a friend.
If I had to choose one quote to summarize this novel, it would be the description of Charlie and Mary Elizabeth’s neighborhood. It was a flashback about their realtor when they first moved in to their starter home. She described the neighborhood as “nearly dead or newlywed”, something that struck me at the beginning of the novel, but then took on a whole new meaning by the end.
*This book review is part of an official book tour with Novel Publicity.
Enter to win 1 of 3 free paperback copies of this novel on the official Wired blog tour page. The winner of the give-away will be announced on Wednesday, October 26 – be sure to enter before then! Just can’t wait to read Wired? Pick up your copy in the Kindle, Nook, or iTunes stores or visit Smashwords with the coupon code AK95A to receive a discounted price (just $2)!
Don’t forget to vote for my blog, MY PAJAMA DAYS, in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins an Amazon gift card and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official Wired blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.
Learn more about this author by visiting her website, Facebook or GoodReads pages or by connecting with her on Twitter. You’ll definitely want to check out Martha’s Mystery Blog–each week a new short thriller is serialized Monday through Friday. The entries are nice and short, easy to read via smart phone or tablet. It’s all at www.MarthaCarr.com.
I obtained this book through Novel Publicity (Novel Publishing Group, LLC.), for FREE to read and write a review for this Virtual Book Blog Tour. I was not compensated with any monies whatsoever, just the pure enjoyment of getting to read this great book. This is in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.