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The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich

The Winter Girl (2016)

by Matt Marinovich

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We all enjoy stories with characters we like and/or can identify with, this is hopefully not one of those tales! If you identify with any of the individuals in this book, seek professional help. Reading this twisted macabre tale made me realize that you can also thoroughly enjoy a story filled with only despicable people. It's a quick read, because you just can't wait to see what's next. Grab a copy and take a journey into perversion! ( )
  bearlyr | Apr 25, 2016 |
It is the winter and the Hamptons are empty - anyone that has another home is back home; just the locals are still around. And one of them is Victor - a dying man who had been just admitted into the hospital while his daughter Elise and her husband Scott are staying at his house and visiting him in the hospital. It does sound like a sad but normal picture, doesn't it? Turned out that it is not.

So let's try a few questions:
1. You find an empty house next door while exploring the area. What would you do?
a) Go home - you are a grown up after al
b) Find a way to get into the house

2. After you went into the house and tell your wife, what would you two do next?
a) Decide to stop behaving like 10 years olds
b) Go to the house and have sex in it

3. If you find a bed covered in blood in the house, what would you do?
a) Call the police
b) Decide that you may want to blackmail the home owners.

If you answered with a) to all of the questions, you are thinking clearly. If you answered with b) on all of them, you are probably Scott - the protagonist and narrator of this novel. And those will be some of your best decisions in the next few months - because Scott makes more and more bad choices.

Victor comes home to die and between that and the house next door, some old secrets start poking their heads up. The story twists and twists and everything needs to be reevaluated based on all the new information (except the evaluation of Scott. He remains an idiot to the end). Murders, sexual assaults, past crimes, present crimes, a brother that seems to be just a phone call away and a big reveal at the end that was so clumsily foreshadowed that it would have been surprising if Marinovich had not gone there.

Add to this some clumsy writing, including one of the worst sex scenes I had read in a while ("her cold thighs pressed tight around my warm ears" being just a part of the mercifully short scene) and the novel leaves you with a "so what?" feeling. The threads of the plot get tied off - we learn all about the house and the blood and so on but something just does not work very well. what is worse is that it could have worked - the setting and the start are serviceable - it just gets downhill fast. At least it was short. ( )
3 vote AnnieMod | Apr 15, 2016 |
This was one strange book. Trying too much to be like Gone Girl, the characters are extremely unlikeable. Set in the winter, while waiting for her father to die, Elise and her husband, Scott are staying in his house while Elise spends every day at the hospital. Scott, an unemployed photographer is bored and becomes fixated on the house next door. He sees that the lights are on timers and decides that since the house is empty, he will get in and explore. He soon convinces his wife to go in with him and it's all down hill from there. While I did keep reading, the story just spiraled down and down until it just became too unbelievable. I can't really recommend this... ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Apr 4, 2016 |
In the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (psychological suspense, unreliable narrator, "girl" in the title), this ended up being an uneven and unsettling read. Marinovich keeps up a good pace through most of it, but some of the characters and details didn't ring true for me and seemed too contrived. The twists weren't twisty enough and the twisted nature of what the narrator discovers was too twisted - not because I'm a prude but because it just seemed to come out of left field. Still, the tension, like the pacing, is pretty well done and I was rapidly turning the pages at the end to find out what would happen. ( )
1 vote katiekrug | Mar 26, 2016 |
The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich is a recommended, fast-paced psychological thriller.

Scott and Elise are in the Hamptons for Elise to care for her terminally ill father, Victor, during his final days. Elise's mother is deceased and her brother, Ryder, is incarcerated, so she is the only one available. There are several problems with the plan. First, Elise, as far as Scott knows, has never had a good relationship with her father and there was likely abuse when she was younger. The second problem is that, although the doctors said it would be a matter of weeks, the vigil has turned into months, and Victor is still holding onto life, spewing venom. Scott and Elise's relationship was teetering on the edge of divorce before, but the situation now is pushing it to the brink.

Scott, who narrates the novel, becomes obsessed with the lights on the house next door. It's obvious no one is there and that they are on a timer. Scott's obsession with the house escalates and eventually results in his breaking into the house. Scott then talks Elise into accompanying him. This one act uncovers a myriad of secrets, intrigue, and horror.

The first part of the story was compelling and caught my attention. Then it sort of went downhill, or at least I had to ignore niggling questions that kept popping up while I was reading. Questions like: "Why are you obsessed with the house next door and what would compel you to break into it?" and "Maybe I missed something, but does breaking and entering really give people a sexual thrill?" and "Really? Unbelievable... really?"

The good news is that The Winter Girl is a short novel and moves along quickly. If you just want escapism with some titillating, gratuitous sex and violence with a vaguely implausible plot, read on. There isn't a lot of character development here. It is all about the secrets and shocking disclosures. The last half of the novel feels rushed and that is where the action/events seem disjointed and dubious.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
**** 4 out of 5 Stars
Review by: Mark Palm
Dark, Darker, Darkest...

There are certain times when I feel compelled to explain why I read and like certain kinds of books. It used to happen a lot back when most Science Fiction and Fantasy books had cover art that made you wonder if the artist had ever even knew what the book was about, but it really happens the most now with works that fall into the noir category of the type that James M.Cain did so well. If you are not familiar with Mr. Cain’s works I suggest you go out and get them. While I am not quite ready to put him in the same company yet, if you want to get a similar feeling I suggest you read The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich. It’s a compelling and suspenseful thriller that made me feel like taking a shower when I finished it. And that’s meant to be a compliment.

It’s winter, and Scott and his wife Elise have moved into the Hampton home of her terminally ill father, Victor, to wait for his inevitable death. Weeks and weeks pass by as Elise spends her time at the hospital with Victor while evading finding a new job as a speech therapist, and Scott pretends to work on his photography business while actually working through Victor’s extensive liquor cabinet. Their marriage is slowly but surely falling apart; Scott is incensed that Elise has been in touch with an old boyfriend and her incarcerated brother, and Victor, who is a bastard from the get-go, and abused Elise in the past, keeps calling Scott and taunting him over the phone.

One day Scott notices something: the lights in the empty house next door go off at exactly eleven each night. Although it’s almost certainly a timer Scott becomes obsessed, and eventually breaks in. This small transgression invigorates him, and soon he talks his unhappy wife into joining him in his new-found passion. The pair gets drunk and go over to the house together, and in a moment of passion, make a disturbing discovery that sets off a chain reaction of horrific discoveries about Victor, Elise, and Carmelita, the “Winter Girl”of the title. There is not much more I can say about the book without dropping a ton of spoilers, but I can tell you that if the first part the story of this couple's life was bad the second half is a disturbing and compelling train wreck.

As unlikeable as they are at first, each and every character become worse and worse, until you feel like you are caught up in a nest of vipers. Mr. Marinovich’s skill is that in spite of this, or just maybe because of it, the story becomes more and more riveting. As the revelations come faster and faster, and get progressively worse you know that there is no way that this story can end well, but by then you are caught up in the narrative flow, very much like the characters themselves, and I was looking to see just how bad things were going to get. And trust me, they get real, real bad. There are a lot of coincidences that fall just the right, (or wrong), way near the end, and it was a bit distressing to read a book in which just about every single person is despicable, but I just kept turning the pages, which earns Mr. Marinovich a serious tip of my cap.

More kudos for the ending, which was both surprising, inevitable, and in keeping with the rest of the novel, very, very dark. So if you like your noir, very noir, I suggest you read The Winter Girl. Just don’t expect a happy ending.

I am going to go get that shower now.

Full reviews available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385539975, Hardcover)

A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband's obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

     It's wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion. 
     Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations. 
     Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Jul 2015 11:33:59 -0400)

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