NEVER LET YOU GO by Chevy Stevens
On Sale March 14, 2017; St. Martin's Press
CBTB Rating: 5/5
The verdict: layered, immersive domestic suspense
Somehow in all my crime reading, I never paid attention to Chevy Stevens until an ARC of her forthcoming NEVER LET YOU GO (on sale March 14, 2017) landed at my door. Boy, am I glad that I then took note of the rave reviews it’s receiving, and picked it up. NEVER LET YOU GO is a truly chilling domestic thriller: its disturbing, insightful portrayal of an abusive relationship left me with knots in my stomach, and the final twists to this story left me gasping out loud. If you love psychological thrillers with rich character development, layered plotting, and a menacing air, NEVER LET YOU GO will be right up your alley.
Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash grabbed her young daughter and fled her abusive husband, Andrew, in the middle of the night. He was arrested, and Lindsey and her daughter built a new life for themselves. But now he’s being released from jail, and Lindsey is afraid again. Has Andrew’s time in prison changed him for the better? Will he leave Lindsey and their daughter alone? She gets her answer: their house is broken into, her daughter is followed, and Lindsey can’t shake the feeling that Andrew is back to make sure that Lindsey will never, ever get away from him.
This thriller kept me utterly, completely absorbed for all of its 400-odd pages. NEVER LET YOU GO is a book that brings the reader up close and personal to the inner workings of an abusive relationship. I was truly sickened by the ways Andrew manipulates Lindsey. In flashbacks to their relationship, Stevens doesn’t shy away from showing readers the many ways that Andrew threatened Lindsey into submission. This book isn't too violent—I was most disturbed by the instances of emotional and verbal abuse depicted within it. It was quite difficult to read a number of these scenes, but it also served to make me even more invested in Lindsey’s wellbeing. I wanted her and her daughter to finally be free of Andrew so badly. Of course, Stevens has a number of tricks up her sleeve, and Lindsey and her daughter have a twisty path to travel in pursuit of that freedom.
This book is structured in three parts: part one gives readers flashbacks on Lindsey and Andrew’s relationship, alternating between different years in their marriage, allowing readers to see the progression of the violence and control that Andrew exercised over Lindsey. Part two brings readers into the present day, as Lindsey and her daughter try to live their lives alongside Andrew’s release from prison. Part three fast-forwards a few months, showing the reader what has become of Lindsey and her daughter. I loved this plot structure—I found that it gave me a 360-degree view of the lasting effects of an abusive relationship, both on its victims and its perpetrator(s).
I found NEVER LET YOU GO a refreshing change of pace from the typical domestic thrillers we’ve all come to know so well. Stevens doesn’t focus on an unreliable narrator or a super twisty-turny plot; instead, she focuses on her characters: their motivations, their personal baggage, and the relationships that connect them. I absolutely loved the plot twists that this story does have, but I will admit: I predicted half of the story’s “big reveal.” This book has a limited cast, so there just aren’t that many red herrings to be had. I didn’t mind that one bit, though—while I predicted the “who” of the big reveal, I certainly never saw the “why” coming. I was completely shocked when the final ball drops, and readers realize what's really going on in Lindsey's life. Even if you do predict all of the big reveal, I don’t believe it would take away from your enjoyment of the book. This book really isn’t about plot twists, it’s an intimate glimpse into the darkest secrets of its characters, and no amount of plot twist-guessing will take that away from the reader.
NEVER LET YOU GO is a chilling, engrossing glimpse into an abusive relationship and the fallout from this violence. This domestic thriller is unique for its unconventional plot structure, its rich characterization, and its wholly immersive story of love gone very, very wrong. I was viscerally affected by Stevens’ no-holds-barred storytelling, and I will absolutely be recommending this book this spring.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 14, 017)
Amazon info here.