Riley by Paul Martin Midden

Riley by Paul Martin Midden
Publisher: Wittmann-Blair
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (526 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

When Riley Cotswald, a writer at work on her second novel, finally leaves her husband, she gets way more than she bargained for. Her characters’ lives echo her own dilemmas, and she feels a kinship to them as they come alive on her desktop. Her best friend Jennifer does not understand this but loves Riley. Maybe too much.
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After a particularly infuriating conversation with her husband Cameron, Riley impulsively gets involved with Edward, a socially-challenged man who had asked her out once, only to be rejected. When Riley runs into him again, she takes out her rage and frustration in a way that delights and intoxicates Edward but was a one-time event for Riley. Edward looks for ways to pursue the relationship but is frustrated at every turn. He begins to stalk Riley and then resorts to the Dark Web to find ways to retaliate against her. What follows is complicated, intense, and completely unforeseen.

This story starts out with some serious psychological ponderings, the kind many people would experience, making it relatable. The questions are interesting, and the uneasy protagonist has some things to work out. The tale was penned by a psychologist, and this shows in the great and detailed characterization.

Riley is a writer composing a novel, and the secondary story of her book is interwoven throughout her own story. She often makes self-comparisons with her characters.

There are different types of relationships explored in depth here, and in an entertaining fashion. This tale is all about introspection occasionally pierced by moments of intense action. The characters consider going down very different roads, and so readers will wonder if they’ll make good choices or really terrible ones, amping up the suspense. Danger exists, based on those choices. The author has written complex, unpredictable, all-too-human characters to drive the drama unfolding in their lives, such as Edward, who stalks Riley after she jilts him. Readers will surely rethink their opinions of the protagonists, the antagonists, and the secondary characters more than once.

Though the pace is not quick, the large amount of internal ponderings offers a great view into the human psyche and so is worth the read.

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