A Mother’s Relentless Pursuit of Justice

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4

The Necklace by Matt Witten is a riveting, page-turning thriller that centers on Susan Lentigo, a mother seeking justice for her seven-year-old daughter Amy, who was brutally raped and murdered two decades ago. The prime suspect, Ray Jansen, a drifter with a criminal record, confesses to the crime but recants before his trial. Nevertheless, the court finds him guilty and imposes the death penalty by lethal injection.

On the eve of Jansen’s execution, Susan embarks on a road trip from her home in Lake Luzerne, New York, to North Dakota to witness the execution and find closure. During her journey, she discovers shocking new evidence that casts doubt on Jansen’s guilt. Even more disturbing, her new prime suspect has a young daughter who might be in terrible danger.

The story alternates between past and present, maintaining high tension until the dramatic climax. While the plot has a few weak areas and some overly dramatic parts, the story is well-written and has a strong female lead. The pace is good, making it an intense but easy read. The language and descriptions of the crime, based on the testimony and confession of the convicted man, are graphic and upsetting. Additionally, a disturbing tour of the prison and a detailed explanation of execution procedures heighten the sense of realism, though some elements, like an execution witness passing inmates or seeing Death Row, are unrealistic.

Despite some flaws, such as characters making frustratingly poor decisions and legal inaccuracies (e.g., the concept of “fruit of the poisonous tree” not being properly addressed), the book remains engaging. The ending, though predictable, is still quite satisfying.

As a grandmother of two young girls, this was a tough read for me, as I could easily imagine their fear in such a situation. Overall, The Necklace is a powerful story about a mother’s relentless pursuit of justice, the complexities of the legal system, and the enduring impact of grief and loss.

** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a comp of this title. The opinions are my own.

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