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Falling Awake: A Dark Psychological Thriller of Romantic Suspense Paperback – December 28, 2011
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My suggestion is NOT to read the description of the story ahead of time---it spoils the gradual unfolding of the backstory and burgeoning relationships.
"Straight-arrow" readers should be aware that eroticism is a focus in the book although it is elevated---and to my way of thinking---never really approaches a soft porn level (although some may disagree).
Mr. Harwood exhibits an excellent command of language that drew me in past some sad and sordid aspects. He took his time in drawing disparate elements together, but it was worth the wait. He made some concise observations that detailed characters as vignettes such as "a large-nosed woman with a furry boa hooted amongst portly male spectators competing for the most garish cummerbund."
The main characters were exceptionally well developed, foibles and all, as were some of the nastier pieces of work that you loved to hate. These were real people dealing with difficult situations. The peripheral mystery of the missing Liam was one of the weaker portions and never captured my interest, but the 12 year old Ben with his physical limitations was sensitively portrayed.
The themes of guilt, penance, private sorrows, perverted justice, parenthood, economic struggles and redemption shine through.
British spelling variants are to be expected; there is a lot of slang that is not translated but allows the reader to achieve some kind of innate understanding. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate between those situations and plain old typos which were relatively infrequent (forth for fourth, pone for phone, contract for contact and the occasional missing letter "in you absence" and at least one occasion of a misspelled name with a triple consonant: Millliband).
People who begin reading the book expecting a typical mystery may need to adjust their expectations and simply enjoy the ride. I found myself musing over the situations long after I finished.