Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: Die For You by Lisa Unger

Die For You
Author: Lisa Unger
ISBN: 978-0-307-39398-2
Pages: 384
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Publisher: Isabel Raine thought she had everything. A successful career, a supportive family, and a happy marriage to the man she loved. Then one ordinary morning, her husband, Marcus, picked up his briefcase, kissed her goodbye, and simply vanished.

That day all her calls went straight to voicemail; the messages she left at his office went unreturned too. Panicking after finally receiving a call from his cell phone in which all she could hear was a man’s terrified cry, Isabel called the police. But they weren’t interested. Men leave, they told her. They leave all the time. Desperate to find her husband, Isabel raced to his office. But instead of finding him, she finds herself in the middle of an FBI raid. Hours later, she awakens in the hospital with a severe concussion and a homicide detective by her bedside waiting to question her about Marcus Raine — the real Marcus Raine.
Now the only thing Isabel knows for sure is that her husband of five years is gone. Where is he—who is he—are questions no one seems to be able to answer. But Isabel will not rest until she finds the truth about the man she loves, even if it means risking everything—including her own life.

Bestselling author Lisa Unger takes us on a nightmarish journey from bustling, glamorous New York City to the murky, twisted streets of Prague, seeking the answer to one bone-chilling question: What if the man you love, the one sleeping beside you, is a stranger?

My Thoughts: Die For You is a riveting story of mystery and suspense. It's filled with interesting, complex characters who've made some monumentally bad decisions and now are paying dearly. More of a "why-" or "how-dunit" than a "who-dunit", Lisa Unger's fast-paced and captivating book makes you wonder how well we really know our loved ones.

The protagonist, Isabel Raine, is a best-selling novelist with a keen eye for details, observing people and her surroundings closely, noticing many things the average person might miss. Ironically, she failed to see the truth in her own marriage of 5 years to Marcus. Her passion for truth and relentless quest for every last detail in a story, her stubborn refusal to rest until she's satisfied with a book's plot, setting and characters was absent from her married life. She ignored many signs that things weren't quite what they seemed. Now, her life in a shambles, she wants to know why, refusing to live without knowing the truth. Even if it kills her.

Lisa, Isabel's sister, appears to have the perfect life: a devoted and loving husband and two wonderful children. But she's far from satisfied. Lisa seems quiet, sweet and more reserved and stable compared to her passionate, out-spoken and stubborn sister. But her surreptitious behavior, borne of her restlessness, has put her family in jeopardy. She's unsure as to how or why she got herself into the awful and troubling position she's in, but she knows feelings of dissatisfaction have plagued her for a long time and suspects it has something to do with that tragic night so many years ago. She and Isabel have never talked about it, oddly enough, but Lisa cannot stop thinking about that night and can't help but wonder if Isabel thinks about it at all..

The author has given us these two compelling, intriguing characters, sisters who, though very close, are very different. Many things go unspoken, because each woman is sure they know how the other will respond, and neither wants to be criticized, disagreed with or made to change their minds. Isabel envies what Lisa has, unaware that Lisa doesn't fully appreciate it. They are complicated women, both deeply impacted by a past event,. not realizing that their failure to resolve their feelings drives their behavior today. They want to protect each other but by keeping each other in the dark they're forgetting that each are the other's greatest support and ally.

The fast-paced action in this story of suspense moves from the streets of New York City to the beautiful, mysterious streets of Prague as Isabel relentlessly and recklessly pursues the answers she desperately craves about a life and man she no longer recognizes. She refuses to heed the authoritative advice from Detective Crowe to stay at home and let the police handle the investigation. Crowe's another engaging character who's made his share of bad decisions in his own life.
This is the first Lisa Unger book I've read and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. It's a well-written, thought-provoking, age-old tale of an independent, successful woman swept off her feet by an exciting, slightly mysterious stranger after a brief but romantic courtship. They marry, she with stars in her eyes, though she knows very little about him. After a few short years, the marriage, which went smoothly at first, implodes. The lovers part, never to see each other again. Then, the tale becomes anything but predictable as Unger adds twisted evil: frightening scenes, shocking behavior, murder and mayhem with the result that the reader can't help but ask the question: how well do I really know the people in my life who I love?

Sadly, I was astounded and unprepared for an ending which I found profoundly flawed. I reread the last few chapters in hopes of picking up on something different - some sarcasm or satire. But no. As such, my opinion of this book dropped a significant notch or two. I would still recommend Die For You for its goose-bump producing read with thrills that keeps it moving at a lightening-fast pace. If like me, you are disappointed by the end, bear in mind that getting there is more than half the fun. It's because of the journey and not the destination, that I am putting Ms. Unger on my list of novelists whose books I intend to read.


  1. Argh--so frustrating to be enjoying a book so much only to be so disappointed at the end!

  2. This was my first Lisa Unger book too. It won't be my last.

  3. This is an author I have been wanting to read for some time now. It sounds like she does a good job with this one, even if not the ending. Of course, now you have me even more curious about how it all ends! :-)