Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Hollie Overton’s fantastic thriller, ‘The Walls’. I read her debut novel, ‘Baby Doll’, a while back and absolutely loved it (you can find my review here). So naturally, I was really excited to read ‘The Walls’ – and it definitely did NOT disappoint. This was a 5 star read, and it’s going straight on my “favourites” shelf! So, keep reading…
What if murder is your only way out?
Single mom Kristy Tucker works as a press agent for the Texas Department of Corrections handling everything on death row from inmate interviews, to chronicling the last moments during an execution. Her job exposes Kristy to the worst of humanity and it’s one that’s beginning to take its toll.
So when Kristy meets Lance Dobson, her son’s martial arts instructor, she believes she’s finally found her happy ending. She’s wrong.
Kristy soon discovers that Lance is a monster. Forced to endure his verbal and physical abuse, Kristy is serving her own life sentence . . . unless she’s willing to take matters into her own hands. Perfectly poised to exploit the criminal justice system she knows so well, Kristy sets out to get rid of Lance – permanently.
** TRIGGER WARNING** Explores the theme of domestic abuse in great detail, so includes scenes detailing physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including scenes of rape. Also describes the act of murder in great detail, including the planning and preparation of murder.
‘The Walls’ (2017) is Hollie Overton’s second novel, following on from ‘Baby Doll’ (2016), which was an International Bestseller and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Overton is also a TV Writer and Producer, and she has written for shows on ABC Family, CBS and Lifetime. Overton’s father was a member of the notorious Texas Overton gang.
The novel received rave reviews, from the likes of Sunday Mirror: “Every bit as gripping as her best-selling debut Baby Doll … An addictive and suspenseful thriller”, Booklist: “Overton spins a fast-moving, increasingly compelling tale”, Herald: “More than just your average thriller” and i Paper: “A suspense-fuelled read, offering a unique insight into domestic violence.”
‘The Walls’ follows the life of Kristy Tucker, who works for the Texas Department of Corrections and is responsible for overseeing prisoners during the death row/execution process. She falls in love with her son’s martial arts instructor, Lance. But soon she realises that Lance is dangerous, so she must do whatever it takes to ensure survival…
The narrative is told from the third-person, following mainly Kristy, but also her son Ryan and partner Lance. This narrative method provides the reader with distanced observations, but also intimate, closer moments to the characters. Some letters are also included, from an inmate to Kristy, which I thought was a really nice touch. The narrative is very easy to follow, but also very effective.
Of course, Kristy is my favourite character in the novel. She’s kind-hearted and selfless, and always puts others before herself. She adores her son Ryan and her father, of whom she is the primary carer for, and she would do anything to ensure they are healthy and safe. She’s stuck in a job she isn’t especially passionate about, but like many of us would, she stays because it’s the easiest option. She becomes the victim of her new husband Lance’s violence, and she becomes trapped in a very dangerous, life-threatening situation. She must be brave and courageous in order to protect her family – something which I really admired her for. She’s a very realistic, three-dimensional character, and I found myself relating to her in a lot of ways.
Kristy’s son Ryan is a brilliantly-executed character. He acts out and gets himself into some messy situations, like many teenagers do. He hates the fact that his mother works with prisoners/executions, and he is very protective over her. He takes up martial arts and his instructor Lance forms a very positive relationship with him, helping to keep him out of trouble and encouraging him to try harder at school. He’s a very realistic teenage character – he’s a bit rebellious, but underneath it all, he really loves his mother and would do anything to protect her.
Kristy’s new husband Lance seems like the perfect man at first – but once they get married, everything changes. He becomes possessive and controlling, placing restrictions on what Kristy is and isn’t allowed to do. He regularly beats and verbally abuses Kristy, and also abuses her sexually. He’s a horrible, monstrous character, but he’s written extremely well.
Other characters in the novel include: Clifton (an inmate with whom Kristy forms a special relationship), Pops (Kristy’s father whom she cares for), Mac (Kristy’s close friend and co-worker), Gus (Kristy’s boss), Carmen (Kristy’s assistant), and various other inmates and co-workers at the prison. All of the characters bring something fresh and exciting to the novel.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel explores the theme of domestic abuse in great detail, and it is very explicit in the portrayals of violence. The novel includes scenes of physical violence, emotional abuse and sexual violence, including repeated scenes of rape. Also, the novel explores the crime of murder in much detail, including research and planning of how to carry a murder, and how to “get away with it”. Some readers may find these scenes distressing, so if you think that these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the novel motors onwards, Lance’s behaviour only gets more extreme and dangerous. Kristy realises that her family are in danger, and she decides to take matters into her own hands to ensure their safety. But can she really go through with her plans? And will she get caught?
So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a fantastic end scene in which all tensions reach their peak, and Kristy is put in a very difficult situation. She is no longer in control of her own fate, and her innocence is questionable. I physically couldn’t put the book down – I just had to keep reading! It was only when I got to the last page that I felt like I could breathe again. An absolutely brilliant ending!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy thrillers, particularly if you’re interested in a character with a unique job/dangerous work environment. I loved everything about this book and I physically couldn’t fault it! Three-dimensionl, realistic characters, plenty of suspense and tension, and a fantastic ending – what more could you want?! If you can handle the difficult subject matter, go and pick this book up today – I guarantee you’ll love it!
Happy reading 🙂