Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.
For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.
Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.
Red, the colour of anger and revenge, and the colour Zoey imagines inside herself as she prowls the streets of New York looking for people who need saving. It’s not all altruistic though, it’s her way of taking control of her life, something she doesn’t feel and hasn’t had since her parents were killed and she was left for dead 10 years previously. No one was ever arrested for the murders but Zoey knows who is guilty and, now, she feels strong enough to start making them pay.
On the outskirts of New York, Claudia is looking to start afresh, having left the city and moved into a run down farmhouse left to her by her father. Her plan is to rebuild and refinish the farm, creating a life away from the grind of the city for her and her daughter. Like Zoey, Claudia has a past touched by violence – her daughter, Raven, is possibly the result of rape. She has never wanted to know but it has coloured her and Raven’s lives.
As Zoey and Claudia’s stories unfold over alternating chapters it starts to become clear that violence isn’t the only thing that links them and that their lives are on a collision course, destined to intersect and putting them all in danger again. Just how this happens I won’t say (spoilers) but I will say Lisa Unger brings it all together very well, building the tension slowly and steadily until the final scenes.
At its core Red Hunter is a pretty simple story and, describing it recently I realised that I made it sound like there isn’t a lot to it. But there is. Unger makes it so much more because the characters she creates are so strong that there is a life to their stories that makes you want to keep reading.
Zoey, Claudia, Raven and the supporting case felt so real to me, I cared for them a lot by the end. I’ve seen some of these people before – the angry young woman out for revenge, the older woman looking for a new start and trying to run from her fears – but it didn’t feel that way. They felt fresh, fully formed, and I wanted things to work out for them.
The writing itself was clear, crisp, simple like the story but in a good way. I really enjoyed reading it, turning the pages, and didn’t find myself bored once, even when I realised what was coming (because I did, something which normally leaves me disappointed).
This is the first Lisa Unger book I’ve read, though a few are on my to read list, and it won’t be the last. The story, the style, the characters. It had everything I enjoy and look for in a book and, as a result, I found myself liking it a lot. Highly recommended.
Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own