Synopses & Reviews
Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous.
Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father.
“I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.”
As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them?
“Some days, all you really want is for someone to tell you a wicked-good story. Linwood Barclay answers the readers perpetual prayer.”—The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Trust Your Eyes
One of the Boston Globes 10 Best Crime Books of the Year
One of Library Journals Best Thrillers of the Year
“A tale Hitchcock would have loved...riveting, frequently scary, occasionally funny, and, surprisingly, wonderfully tender.”—Stephen King
“No one can thrill you and chill you better than Linwood Barclay. Trust me when I say you wont want to miss [this].”—Tess Gerritsen
“One of the best thrillers of the year...where nothing and no one is all that they seem.”—Lisa Gardner
“Expertly plotted…superior entertainment.”—The Washington Post
“Delivers shocks and surprises at every turn…one of the best thrillers of the year.”—The Associated Press
“An up-to-the-moment thrill ride.…I couldnt turn the pages fast enough.”—William Landay
“Twist-driven thrillers with explosive action are a hallmark of Linwood Barclay, and Trust Your Eyes could very well be his best.”—USA Today
“Dazzling...an artist at the top of his game.”—Joseph Finder
“Should vault him into the top rank of thriller writers.”—Booklist (starred review)
One of the Boston Globe's Best Crime Novels of the Year!
One of Suspense Magazine's Best Books of 2013!
Hailed as a suspense master” by Stephen King, Linwood Barclay now reveals the dark side of a small townand the even darker secrets that hide there...
Its been two months since private investigator Cal Weavers teenage son Scott died in a tragic accident. Ever since, he and his wife have drifted apart, fracturing a once normal life. Cal is mired in grief, a grief he cant move past. And maybe his grief has clouded his judgment. Because driving home one night, he makes his first big mistake.
A girl drenched in rain taps on his car window and asks for a ride as he sits at a stoplight. Even though he knows a fortysomething man picking up a teenage hitchhiker is a fool, he lets her in. Shes the same age as Scott, and maybe she can help Cal find the dealer who sold his son the drugs that killed him. After a brief stop at a roadside diner, Cal senses that somethings not right with the girl or the situation. But its too late. Hes already involved.
Now Cal is drawn into a nightmare of pain and suspicion. Something is horribly wrong in the small town of Griffon in upstate New York. There are too many secrets there, too many lies and cover-ups. And Cal has decided to expose those secrets one by one.
Thats his second big mistake.
About the Author
Linwood Barclay, former columnist for The Toronto Star, is the #1 international bestselling author of ten critically acclaimed novels, including Trust Your Eyes, which has been optioned for film, and No Time for Goodbye. He lives near Toronto with his wife and has two grown children.
Reading Group Guide
Note: In order to provide book groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this book—as well as the ending. If you have not finished reading FRAGILE, we respectfully suggest that you may want to wait before reviewing this guide.
Fragile opens with a dramatic scene on a dark and stormy night: Jones Cooper drops a package into a deep muddy hole, a mysterious package that “represented everything dark and ugly within him” (2). What kind of man does Jones seem to be in the first few pages? Did your opinion of him change over the course of the novel? Why or why not?
2. The narration moves fluidly back and forth from one character’s voice to another. Was it clear to you whose perspective you were reading as you began a new chapter? What cues helped you orient yourself, what characteristics most define each character’s voice? Did one voice draw you in more than the others?
3. In addition to moving from one character’s voice to another, the novel also moves back and forth through time. How did this help you understand each character? How did it affect your reading of this page-turning novel? Did it force you to slow down, to get your bearings, even when you were dying to know what happened next?
Minor characters are often central to a novel. Discuss Charlie, for instance: why do you think he’s in the story? What does he represent, how does he connect the characters and move the plot forward? Are there any characters that aren’t given voice, whose stories we see only from other characters’ perspectives? How does the absence of their voice affect the way you understand them?
The small town of The Hollows is a big presence in Fragile. How would you describe The Hollows? Do you think its name is metaphorical, and if so, what does it represent? Is it a typical small town? What does the author invite us to think about when it comes to how people are connected (or disconnected) in a small community like this? How is New York City depicted?
The word “fragile” appears in several places in the novel, one of them on the night that Sarah is killed. “It was then that Jones realized your body was a thing that could be broken on impact….Then, years later, there was a dawning, a slow and terrible dawning that he, too, would die….A grim dread, accompanied by a petulant rage, settled on him. It was all so damn fragile. It shouldn’t be. Something so important should be stronger” (217). Discuss this profound moment with your group. How does this realization change Jones? Do you think he understands the fragility of life differently later as a husband, a father, a “good cop” than he did as a young man on that fateful night?
The novel opens from the perspective of Jones Cooper in the dark rain, tortured by his lonely secrets, trying desperately to bury a memory he can’t face. It ends with that same scene, but now Jones is joined by his son and wife. Why do you think the author chose to bookend her novel with this particular scene, told in two very different ways?
The last chapter is told from Maggie Cooper’s point of view, as she digs up “her buried memory.” Jones, Rick, and Elizabeth join Maggie in her office, an unusual thing as her office is usually defined as her space and her space alone. What do you make of this coming together? Where will this family go from here? Do you think they’ll be better off now that they’ve shared their secrets with one another?
The word “fragile” appears in this scene as well, in the very last lines of the novel: “[Maggie] felt an awe at how all their separate lives were twisted and tangled, growing over and around one another, altering, aiding, and blocking one another’s paths….how the connections between them were as terribly fragile as they were indelible” (323). Do you think Maggie and Jones have different takes on the notion that life is fragile? How so?
Do you think most people carry a secret, a moment in our lives that defines them and yet remains hidden?