4 out of 4 stars
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In Chasing the Orchid by Michael Benson, Chris Bachman seems to have it all--a loving wife, a loyal best friend/business partner, and a successful company. After he learns that his wife, Tory, has been dealing with racial prejudice in the small Mississippi town where they reside, Chris makes a difficult choice and sells his business. They move to Los Angeles to begin a new life together and fulfill Tory's dream of owning a high-end martini bar. Despite Chris's reservations about their new location and business, he is committed to making his wife happy until traumatic memories from his childhood begin to haunt him. He becomes sleep-deprived due to his persistent nightmares, and things quickly spiral out of control. Chris begins to question the people closest to him and doubts his own sanity, but is there something more sinister at work?
The author seamlessly weaves a multilayered suspense supported by well-developed characters. By the time Chris begins to unravel, he is already established as a flawed, but loving and supportive husband. Tory is presented as a strong female lead, and I applaud the author's emphasis on her character strengths rather than her physical appearance. The bigotry she contends with adds another dimension to the story. Chris's buddy, Glenn, is a philanderer who drinks too much but reveals hidden depth as the story progresses.
It may sound cliché, but I most liked the nonstop twists and turns in this psychological thriller; from beginning to end, I found it hard to put the book down. The suspenseful plot provides just enough clues from the past while propelling ahead with the unexpected to keep readers glued to the story. What more can one ask from 257 pages?
On the other hand, at the risk of sounding biased, I must be honest and confess my only dislike is the author's spelling of a character who shares my name. Secilia Applegate is a supporting character with a significant role, one which I won't reveal. I have never seen the alternative spelling but did find other examples online. I realize name spellings are a personal preference; this one will likely go unnoticed by most readers, with the exception perhaps, of other namesakes. Nonetheless, it is a small blip in a thrilling story which didn't detract from my overall reading pleasure.
I'm pleased to rate this page-turner 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to fans of psychological thrillers. Due to the intensity of the plot and the use of profanity, I would not recommend it to young readers.
Chasing The Orchid
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