Laura by Amy Cross came out in 2017. The novel’s Kindle page lists it at 501 pages. Free through Kindle Unlimited; the purchase price is USD 0.99. I am an Amy Cross addict although I cannot read two of her books consecutively. She might be considered by most readers to be a writer of horror fiction but there is also a mixture of crime, thriller, mystery, and psychological genre. I find the content too intense to read more than one of her books per month. Then I read other things and return to her novels for a burst of motivation.
After reading a few pages in Prologue, I could tell I was going to have a problem keeping all the characters and their relationships in mind. Going back to the table of contents helped me with the way the novel is organized. There are 13 parts if the prologue and epilogue are included. Then there are ten parts, each one with a character name as its title. The story involves the fates of six main characters with Laura playing a primary role. Reader confusion begins here. At some time, Laura is a member of the “group of six,” other times in the narrative she is not. This is important to the story. Laura was replaced in the group by Victoria. It doesn’t matter who replaced Laura; the situation is unacceptable to her. As the reader will learn, Laura is vindictive, creative, and out for revenge. She is also dead, a fact that partially explains her estrangement from the group.
Reader confusion continues as this character-driven story explains shifting relationships in the group as it existed with Laura and post-Laura. Sophie and Elliott are not really a couple. A very close platonic relationship is how Sophie would explain it. Elliott wants it to be more but Sophie intends the relationship to be no more intimate. Lynn and Nick are married and in a fairly stable relationship but Nick would prefer Lynn to lighten up on the cocaine use. Johnathan and Victoria seem to be successful in marriage and financially well off but, as we find out at the beginning of the novel, Victoria is obsessed with the idea that she has a stalker intent on destroying her life. Johnathan feels that excessive preoccupation with this idea will lead to insanity.
Each of the ten character-titled parts is written from the perspective of that character about their relationship with each of the other characters. Their perspectives are given in three parts; one from twenty years previous, one from ten years previous, and one from the present. This will continue to the end of the novel where we find a couple of segments set from a few months to one year into the future. All of this time shifting can make it difficult to remember who precisely is giving “testimony” about what has happened or is happening. I found I had to use a highlighter and make notes so that I would not lose track of who Toby and Tommy were. They are not main characters but they move the story along.
There is not a lot of strong or sexual language in this story. Laura is variously described by the other characters as a slut but that is about as strong as the language gets. There is no reason for trigger warnings. Yes, there are photos of several characters engaged in extreme sexual practices to be used as blackmail but these are only hinted at, never described. So, the reader is left to use personal imagination to fill in the blanks with the appropriate amount of salaciousness to taste.
Laura is dead. No one actually killed her (perhaps, readers can decide) but Laura blames everyone for her death. She wants revenge and believes the best consequence for everyone she blames for her death would be to spend some time with her in the wonderful state of Limbo. How she goes about this and whether she will succeed or not is what makes this a very entertaining read. Not all Amy Cross books were created equal. I put them in three categories ranging from merely entertaining (good) to entertaining with a twist (better) to the top category of entertaining with lots of twists and surprises (very good). Laura is in the top category.