Right from the beginning, we are given a secret, a deception, possibly a betrayal. “It isn’t true,” she says, leaving us with questions – what isn’t true? Carrie is in the hospital while her family rushes to her. What happened? Why?
The story is one of addiction and the accompanying delusions. The temptation, the trial, the enjoyment, the complete surrender, and finally the denial, because to admit would be to go mad. Carrie goes undercover as Cara to infiltrate the world of a Korean crime lord/casino owner and his sons. She is eager to prove herself and to seek revenge for a woman thought to have been murdered by them. But as time goes on, she begins to lose herself in the glamor, even falling in love with the degenerate son ridiculed by everyone. It’s the classic attraction to the “bad boy,” the need to change them, and in the process perhaps validate oneself. A part of her might even identify with this man and his desperate need for approval.
I was engrossed from beginning to end. The author skillfully builds up the tension between what is real and what is not, the struggle between Carrie and Cara, leaving the reader wondering if she will ever come out of it. All the while we are immersed in detailed, almost poetic descriptions “a Dorian Gray of a building that hid its twisted heart behind a glamorous façade” (LOVE IT!) that spark the imagination. Every character is well-developed with distinct, multi-layered personalities. Sometimes you hate them and sometimes you feel for them. The plot is full of surprises and twists that make us question whether Carrie/Cara is doing the right thing or not, culminating in the tragic ending which brings us back to the beginning.
Great read. Highly recommended.