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The Undoing by Averil Dean

The Undoing

by Averil Dean

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3 lifelong friends buy the hotel of their dreams and start renovating it. And then the past seems to try to catch up with them - and the bodies start dropping.

Most of the story is said in reverse order - starting with a death and going back to show how things happened. That way of writing works when the back story changes how you see things - a piece of backstory that changes the way you see things from a future scene. And that requires subtlety and careful handling of clues and hints. And Dean does not manage to pull it off - there is nothing really revelatory in the back story - and the few pieces that could have changed someone's reading do not come off as a surprise.

The only surprise comes at the end of the book, when the book moves to the future of the scene from the start of the novel. And that sounds almost as a cheat - it adds up at the end but the clues and hints were not there earlier - it looks as if the author was too worried to give it up too early. Add the over-long and explicit sex scenes which do not help the action and are there seemingly just to shock and it comes off as trying too hard. The author is considered an erotica author so I expected some of this - but the thin line between erotica and porn is making sure that the scenes actually add to the story. At the same time they were particularly well written either...

If the novel was told linearly, it actually could have worked. Trying to pull off the reverse order backfires. And to add to the mess, Dean is too scared to fully try to pull it off - and adds this end instead of leading with it. And the writing is not strong enough to help either.

I doubt that I will try another book by Averil Dean - not for a while anyway. ( )
  AnnieMod | Mar 23, 2016 |
The Undoing by Averil Dean begins with one drastic action and no explanation. Julian is alone and does something nearly unthinkable. The interesting thing, for the reader, is that it is entirely out of context – there is only the vaguest of hints about how we came to this point. Then we jump back a day, to see what brought Julian to the edge. Then we jump back 5 years, then 3 days before that, then a year before that. As we hopscotch through time, we begin to get a sense of the characters and events.

Celia, Rory, and Eric have been inseparable since childhood, growing up in the tiny Colorado town of Jawbone Ridge. Celia and Rory were raised as siblings (her father married his mother); Eric is Rory’s best friend and Celia’s sometime lover. They did not have easy childhoods – there were abusive parents, family secrets, desertion and death – but these three damaged people had a bond that helped them survive it all. They eventually follow Celia’s long-time dream of buying the abandoned Blackbird Hotel, planning to turn it into a B&B. Instead, the three old friends end up dead, shot to death in the hotel. Who was responsible and what pushed this relationship to the breaking point?

I love the way this story skips through time. I love the way that just when you think part of the story is becoming clearer, a new bit of backstory makes you rethink everything. There are so many threads to unravel! Dean does an excellent job of weaving the disjointed bits of backstory into an ending that completely changes the way you will view the first few pages. It kept me engaged; I read the book straight through, starting in a departure lounge at the Cleveland airport and and finally finishing over dinner at JFK. There was no way I was going to put this one down – I needed to know how it ended! There’s not much greater praise for a novel. ( )
  LisaLynne | Feb 15, 2016 |
Celia Dark, Eric Dillon, and Rory McFarland have been all but inseparable best friends since childhood. Facing a variety of problems, they’ve formed a bond and turn to each other for help, for strength, for comfort. As long as they have each other, they don’t need anyone else.

Fulfilling Celia’s dream, they buy the Blackbird, a dilapidated inn perilously perched on the cliffs of Jawbone Ridge, Colorado, and set about refurbishing it. Friends Julian Moss and Kate Vaughn are around to provide a bit of assistance, but the story is less about the hotel and more about the relationship between this group of young adults, about the growing anger, distrust, and obsession that plague the once tightly-knit trio.

The plot is revealed in unfolding layers; the story is told from multiple points of view but is a bit convoluted, making it difficult to follow at times. Readers would be well-served if they paid close attention to the date that tops each new chapter. Suspense hangs over the events in the story and there are some unexpected twists and turns as secrets are revealed.

The story is told in a mix of current-day scenes and flashbacks with the writing successfully building a sense of anxiety and unpredictability. While readers are likely to be unsettled by the perversions, none of the characters are even remotely likable and it’s all but impossible to dredge up any bit of sympathy for any of them or the circumstances in which they find themselves. ( )
  jfe16 | Dec 26, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0778317390, Paperback)

On a bitter January evening, three people are found murdered in the isolated Blackbird hotel. 

Best friends since childhood, Eric, Rory and Celia have always been inseparable. Together they've coped with broken homes and damaged families, clinging to each other as they've navigated their tenuous lives. Their bond is potent and passionate—and its intensity can be volatile. 

When the trio decides to follow Celia's dream of buying and renovating the Blackbird, a dilapidated hotel that sits on the perilous cliffs of Jawbone Ridge, new jealousies arise and long-held suspicions start to unravel their relationship. Soon they find themselves pushed to the breaking point, where trust becomes doubt, longing becomes obsession, and someone will commit the ultimate betrayal. 

An unflinching story of ambition, desire and envy, The Undoing traces the events leading to that fateful night, revealing the intimate connections, dark secrets and terrible lies that wove them together—and tore them apart.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 17 Dec 2015 03:13:53 -0500)

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