Review Rating 3/5
The product of a strict religious upbringing that frowned on entertainment, Leah hides her yearning to become a pianist and instead works as an event planner and leads a relatively normal life.
Her life is forever changed when she becomes involved with Jason, a glamorous former basketball star who founded a company called Bright Horizons to help underprivileged students succeed. Yet, does he really love her? Her battered heart is willing to believe so until he was reported murdered. From then on, her life went into a tailspin of fear that shook her to her core. What ensues, a tangled web of lies and deceit, threatens to strangle her very breath, if not her life.
Who killed Jason, and why? A former lover? A colleague? A deranged fan with a sick attachment to the ex-basketball hero? Whoever it was, Leah is determined to find out—even it if means she comes face to face with Jason’s killer.
People aren’t always what they seem, she had been warned.
As the body count rises Leah finds comfort in the arms of a married man name Calvin. However, the maze of clues and dead ends she encounters keep Leah on the edge of her sanity—until all the answers are uncovered in a blistering fast unraveling that leaves her stunned.
A grizzly surprise ending gives way to a ray of hope: Eighty-Eight Keys.
I found Eighty-Eight Keys by Catherine Lavender to be a book with many surprises. As a debut novel, it was quite interesting and it was a pleasure to read. However, I personally felt there were too many characters in the book, and at times I found it overwhelming. Having two or three main characters in a book are more than enough to engage the reader; it also helps to establish a connection with said reader. I wanted to know more about Leah’s life, about her trials, and what she went through, as well as what it took for her to break free of the the religious beliefs that music was not to be shared. Maybe more background and emotional drama and angst between her and her mother, for example, would have given me more insight as to what Leah had to endure in the past as well as in the present. Secondary characters are great, but I wanted Ms. Lavender to focus more on the main characters. By doing so it makes for great plot development and the reader is invested in the characters.
I did like the transition from past to present, giving the reader a glimpse into Leah and Jason’s relationship before he died. However, the relationship they shared failed to keep me interested. His character was flawed, which I don’t mind, as I believe flawed characters are a plus in a novel. The reader follows them as they mature and change, and they become a better person, if that character is a protagonist. However, Jason, a main character in the book, is murdered, thereby never getting the chance to redeem himself. (It did seem to me as if Jason wanted to be a better partner to Leah while he was alive.) There is a part in the book, which I can’t mention due to spoilers, where Jason takes steps towards redemption, but again he can’t because he’s no longer alive. Maybe to some the possibility of what could have been is enough. However, my belief is that change and redemption are a process that readers want to read, and they want to be there when it finally happens.
The character I found to be the most interesting was Marla. Marla is the wife of Calvin, the man who Leah goes to for comfort. There is a definite attraction between them. I had the most empathy and sympathy for this character, and I rejoiced in her journey throughout this story. She displayed her vulnerability, and later on, the inner strength she needed to move forward.
The murder and the who-done-it were interesting; but if I were more invested in the characters, I think it would have been even better. All in all ,the book was engaging, and the writer is quite talented with her writing skills, and I look forward to seeing the growth in her future works.