Review: “Mine” by J.L. Butler

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Engaging, steady-paced, and never boring.

About the Book

Fran is a young, successful divorce lawyer. She’s made all the right steps in her career. Now, she’s just an application away from becoming one of London’s elite attorneys. However, all that becomes threatened when she meets her wealthy new client Martin. Sparks fly the moment they first see each other. Against all the rules, she tosses caution to the floor with her clothes, and they embark on a passionate and intense love affair.

As their relationship deepens, Fran can’t shake the feeling that Martin’s marriage to the beautiful Donna Joy isn’t as over as he claims. It doesn’t help that she hears two different stories as to how they ended. While he says it’s what he wanted, his friends portray it differently.

Martin’s actions don’t help to calm her growing obsession either. He fails to answer his phone after a meeting with Donna Joy. When Fran decides to follow the estranged wife to learn more about her, she spies them having dinner together, followed by a ‘nightcap’ at Donna Joy’s house.

The next morning, Fran awakens on her neighbor’s couch after a drunken blackout. She has no idea how she got there or what happened after Martin and Donna Joy went home together. The only clue she finds is a little blood on her clothes. But when she gets the news that Donna Joy has disappeared, it becomes increasingly important for her to remember — and to clear Martin’s name as he becomes the prime suspect in the police investigation.

She’ll risk her career for him.

She’ll risk her life.

She’ll even risk the possibility that she’s the one behind Donna Joy’s disappearance.

After all, she wanted the woman out of Martin’s life more than anybody…

My Review

“Mine” is J.L. Butler’s debut novel. It was a mixed bag of nuts for me. It’s engaging, steady-paced, and never boring. Her characters and descriptions are vivid and well written, but that’s not enough to make it a fave. For me, the book didn’t quite rise to the occasion of a great psychological thriller. At the end of the day, I guess I prefer a ‘what in the heck happened‘… ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter‘… mind twisting experience. “Mine” wasn’t it.

By definition, psychological thrillers emphasize the typically-unstable mental state of the characters. The narrator or main character in this genre typically has a complex, tortured, or obsessive relationship with others in the book. Authors of psychological thrillers regularly employ one (or more) of three literary devices to create their stories: a MacGuffin, an unreliable narrator, and/or a plot twist.

Author J.L. Butler attempts to use the unreliable narrator and MacGuffin. She succeeds with the latter, but not so much with the former. Martin’s estranged wife Donna Joy is missing. She is the MacGuffin, or what drives the plot forward, but Donna Joy is unimportant to the story by herself.

But Fran is different. She’s the main character, and Butler does a fabulous job of fleshing her out and drawing you in. It’s impossible not to feel her disorientation and fear. Or the chaos her life becomes as she starts to unravel. She’s not just words on a page. If a stressed psychological state is contagious, you’ll become infected during portions of the book.

However, she’s not much of an unreliable narrator. While she isn’t straight forward with some details, such as her bi-polar disorder, she also doesn’t lie or deceive. She’s the queen of crappy choices in both her personal and professional life, but that doesn’t destroy her credibility either. If a good unreliable narrator is what you’re craving, you’ll find she’s not it.

It doesn’t take long to figure out who was involved in Donna Joy’s disappearance. If you’ve read any amount of mysteries or crime novels, you’ll know the answer when you discover which people the police suspect — and the one person they never even consider.

WARNING: This novel contains graphic sex and rape.

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