Monday, February 2, 2009

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

Flap copy from ARC:
"When Melody Grace McCarthy was six years old, she and her parents witnessed an act of violence so brutal that it changes their lives forever. The federal government lured them into the Witness Protection Program with the promise of safety, and they went gratefully. But the program took Melody's name, her home, her innocence, and ultimately, her family. She's been May Adams, Karen Smith, Anne Johnson, and countless others- everyone but the one person she longs to be: herself.

So when the feds spirit her off to begin yet another new life in another new town, she's stunned when a man confronts her and calls her by her real name. Jonathan Bovaro, the Mafioso sent to hunt her down, knows her- the real her- and it's a dangerous thrill that Melody can't resist. He insists that she's just a pawn in the government's war against the Bovaro family. But can she trust her life and her identity to this vicious stranger whose acts of violence are legendary?"

This well-written book traces one woman's attempt to carve out an identity from the tattered remains of a life. Alone, and constantly on the run, Melody has no true connections to anyone other than the agent who has run her case since she was six years old. When he retires, and a new agent takes over, Melody's attempt to resolve questions about her life and her presence in the program take on new dimensions when she is confronted with a killer who knows her name. As she finds herself drawn to the son of the man who ordered her death, she still tries desperately to find some semblance of a normal life.

As the book progresses, it becomes clear that Melody's many questions about her life and possibly her death will never be truly answered by anyone. I did find the romantic relationship between Melody and Jonathan hard to believe, though Cristofano did do a good job building up psyche that might allow her to have feelings for her would-be-assassin.

The ending was fabulous- I found myself reluctant to turn the pages, afraid at any moment that the worst would happen as a crescendo of action and violence built. Despite my reservations about a central plot element (the love between Melody and Jonathan), I must confess the finale of the book was a magnificent twist that redeemed the entire novel.

I read this book in one sitting the day that it arrived, and know that it has a bright future. This unsual look at the Witness Protection Program receives a solid 4 stars- highly recommended.


Sandra said...

Great review as always. I have to read this book now you realize. Your enthusiasm is infectious. :)

Diane said...

This one looks interesting. Thanks for posting!