*This review will contain spoilers!*
If you didn't read my spoiler free review of 'Crash & Burn' go and check that out, and if you haven't read this book yet I would seriously recommend turning away now, because this is a book that you don't want to get spoilers on before you've read it for yourself.
If you're still interested in getting my spoilery thoughts on this novel, scroll down now...
1) Nicky and Thomas's relationship:
This is one of the most bizarrely twisting and turning book that I have ever read. My immediate instinct told me that Nicky was being abused by her husband, Thomas, but when he had bruised my brain switched the the idea that maybe she was abusing him. Their relationship was so tumultuous throughout the entire novel, and I was very impressed with Lisa Gardner's writing ability, in that it really did make you consider all of the options. I worked out about halfway through that Thomas probably had something to do with Madame Sade's brothel, but I was convinced that he was going to have been working with his mother, rather than going against her wishes. I was pleasantly surprised when we found out that he helped Nicky escape from her evil clutches, and when they ended up happy together I was beyond happy, because it seemed like justice that the two characters who had suffered most throughout the novel got some semblance of a perfect ending.
Even though the focus of the story was so obviously upon Nicky, with her tortured past and her unravelling present, the inclusion of Detective Wyatt, and his relationship with Tessa, was one of the other interesting points in the novel. The relationship between them mirrored the relationship between Nicky and Thomas, with Tessa's withheld secret mirroring that of Thomas's, and I thought it was interesting to see the juxtaposition of a normal couple with secrets versus a couple with secrets and a mentally impaired participant. The fact that they too got their happy ending also made me happy.
3) Nicky as Vero/Chelsea:
I wasn't surprised at all by the news that Nicky was Vero, so I was actually extremely disappointed by this reveal. It seemed like the most natural assumption, and for the time that she was Vero, it just seemed like the book was chugging along to the inevitable end. The reunion and confrontation between Maureen and Nicky was heart-wrenching, but the big twist that actually, Nicky was not Vero, was one of the biggest twists of the whole novel. Never before have I been so completely blindsided by something like that, so I was shell shocked. The turnaround to Nicky being Chelsea didn't shock me as much, because it made sense that if she wasn't Vero she was someone extremely close to her, but the original twist made me supremely paranoid of everything that I assumed I knew throughout the rest of the book.
4) Vero's death:
The constant development of how exactly Vero died was extremely interesting, and made the final reveal that much more surprising. When we get Nicky's story of how Chelsea died, it's natural to assume that Vero died in the exact same way when we get the twist. However, finding towards the end of the novel that, actually, Vero had to jump out of the burning building and fall to her death, made it that much more terrible. For all of these girls that had been taken from their homes and placed into the cruel environment of the brothel, dying from a drug overdose might seem to be the likely fate, but Vero's ending was much more distressing.
5) Vero's mother selling her:
With how upset Maureen seemed by the entire situation, I thought she was one of the biggest losers of the entire book, so when it turned out that she'd actually sold her own daughter it was another massive shock to me. During the conclusion, when she admitted to Nicky that she didn't know that it was a brothel, and she didn't know the situation that she was forcing her daughter into, I felt a little bit sorry for her. The desperation of an abused woman, seeing her daughter nearly get beaten to death, is a desperation that I hope that I never have the pain of feeling, so I can't imagine what I would do in that situation. However, if you've managed to keep it covered up for thirty years, you shouldn't allow yourself to get rattled and go and try to shoot two people you hardly know; that shows a cold calculation that hints towards a deeper evil inside.