BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times July 18-24, 2007
by Philip K. Jason
There are plenty of thrills and chills, twists and turns, in Tina Wainscott’s new suspense novel, “Until the Day You Die.” A young real estate agent, Maggie Fletcher, feels somewhat guilty for not trusting the complaints her sister had made about being the victim of a stalker. In order to make sure the alleged murderer, Colin Masters, meets justice, Maggie succumbs to the temptation of giving false testimony that leads to his conviction.
While the cased against him is being developed, Masters starts threatening Maggie in his skillful, unprovable manner. By the time Masters is convicted and sentenced, Maggie’s relationship with the prosecuting District Attorney has been ruined, her employer has been harassed, and she has begun to fear for her own life and that of her son.
Maggie relocates to a small town in New Hampshire far from the initial setting of coastal Portsmouth. She feels that she has no choice but to erase almost all traces of her past, take on a new identity, and start again. However, after three years pass uneventfully, she discovers that Masters was retried because of a technicality in the original trial – and this time found innocent.
Not only that, he has already found her and initiated his diabolical plan of revenge. He even cleverly ingratiates himself to Maggie’s young son, another well-drawn character. Wainscott baits the hook skillfully, but I will give away no more.
One of the pleasures of the book is the way Wainscott has developed her characters and story line through a shifting point of view. Maggie’s chapters are told in the first person. Thus, we can know directly what she is thinking and feeling. She confides in us, and she gains our sympathy. Colin Masters and other characters are presented in third-person narration, giving us somewhat less access to their interior lives. Still, we will discover much about the grotesque psychology and distorted genius of Masters. For all his hideousness, he becomes in Wainscott’s hands a magnetic center of interest.
“Until the Day You Die” is another step in Tina Wainscott’s ongoing transformation from author of paranormal romance to mainstream romance to romantic suspense to outright thriller. The psychological suspense element is paramount. Yes, there is a romantic dimension to this new novel, but I wouldn’t expect to find it on the romance shelves in the bookstores.
Wainscott did a good deal of research to insure the authenticity of her novel. She revisited Portsmouth, a town she has used in an early, unpublished manuscript. She also had a relative do additional research for her. For Ashbury, she did internet and map research, eventually visiting there as well.
This dedicated author also researched the psychology of stalking as well as the prosecution of stalking cases. She even connected with a police officer in the county where the novel is set. These explorations helped her with the police and court angles, which took the most time.
All of this preparation paid off, as Wainscott has delivered a first-rate crime novel with a strong sense of place, intriguing characters, and a high degree of verisimilitude.
In her next novel, Tina Wainscott returns “to the land of moral ambiguity.” The tentatively titled “What Lies in Shadow” is due out in January: “A lonely housewife reaches out in her anonymous blog and finds someone reaching back…in a deadly way.”
Naples native Tina Wainscott was one of the early subjects of the “Book Beat” column. For biographical information and comments on her career as a writer, go to naplessuntimes.com and use the search tool to find the August 2006 column. Also, visit her website tinawainscott.com.
Meet Tina Wainscott as she signs her new book and other titles on Saturday, July 7 beginning at 2pm at the Naples Barnes & Noble.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club.