Josie and Jack
By Kelly Braffet
Thrillers are great diversions and they often are turned into movies we love to watch. However, for the most part, they tend to be formulaic and heavy handed. Fortunately, this is not a rule and more psychologically interesting and challenging thrillers can be found. One such suspense novel published a few years back and currently available in paperback is Josie and Jack.
From the first to the last page, you’ll find Josie and Jack fascinating, satisfying, and thrilling on many levels, as well as impressive as a first novel to boot. We recommend it to readers who seek something more substantial both in content and style in their thrillers.
In another time (maybe we should revive it and bring it to you) we maintained a “Killer Crime Fiction” list. We evaluated crime novels on five criteria. To make our crime list, a novel had to meet at least three of those criteria.
Josie and Jack happily satisfies all five criteria. It does an excellent job of exploring the minds of both physical and psychological killers: psychological being a megalomaniacal father who in the name of superior intellect destroys Josie’s and Jack’s chances for normal and productive lives. We won’t reveal anything about the abuse and physical murder, allowing you to discover them on your own. Suffice it to say that Braffet’s narrator, 17-year-old Josie, tells the tale with rising threat and tension.
Which leads us to praise Braffet’s writing. It’s clean, simple, deeply insightful, and fraught with impending doom. Always engaging, turning self-absorbed, arrogant, willful, and self-destructive teens into people you feel for, in particular Josie, it propels you to what you will conclude as an inevitable ending with amazing speed.
Since this is a psychological thriller and ultimately a crime story, an understanding of the criminal and psychotic mind is essential, though lacking in many genre novels. From the abusive father, to the misguided and disturbed children, to the idealized perished mother, to the victims of Josie’s and Jack’s superiority, Braffet’s observations are spot on, comprising an impressive grasp of the abnormal mind.
Then there’s our criteria of uniqueness. Novels on our old list exhibited a variety of unique features. For instance, in addition to its literary sense, The Collector explored a deadly form of narcissism. Misery used language to define a lunatic. i, Killer enabled readers to view the world through the eyes of a serial killer.
And, in like manner, Josie and Jack demonstrates how a psychological thriller also works as a first-rate literary experience.
Then, as with any good novel, Josie and Jack lingers with you, popping up in your mind from time to time; you think and re-think your feelings about the characters and especially what Josie did in the end.
If you’re in the mood for a good and different type of thriller, give it a try. w/c