Reckonings, a Heartbreaking Suspense Novel by Karen E. Osborne

The Bottom Line:  A heartbreaking suspense novel about family secrets, shame and justice. 

Karen E. Osborne, author of the superb Tangled Lies, returns with a suspense thriller featuring Osborne’s finest protagonist yet.  Thirty-six year old Roxy has been through a lot. At age 12, her mother abandoned her. At 18, she was raped by her boyfriend, Spider.

These days she works at a local beauty salon while raising four kids, the oldest of whom is pregnant. Roxy is happily married and about to have her play staged in the local community theater. But her life is turned upside down when Spider returns as a land developer with a proposal to revitalize the town. She tells herself that Spider’s return doesn’t have to mean trouble, but their lives seem hopelessly intertwined. 

Husband Carl is unaware of Spider’s dark past, and without that knowledge, he soon manages to gain Carl’s trust. Despite Roxy’s threat to kill Spider if he goes near her oldest daughter, Jewel, Spider gives her a job. Both Roxy and Spider know that Jewel is likely the result of the rape. Adding to the intrigue, Jewel is also pregnant, making the unborn baby their biological grandchild. 

Osborne builds Spider’s growing community presence deftly through a variety of seemingly philanthropic actions. For much of the book, even the most skeptical readers may wonder whether he’s really a changed man, or still a “rat-snake-evil-doer” in disguise. Roxy’s past suffering is never in doubt, but her perception of Spider’s intentions are continuously questioned by those around her. 

Reckonings should be applauded for approaching such tricky subject matter with so much heart. Creating a character as complex as Roxy is no small feat — a long-suffering woman, so close to a personal breakthrough, yet held back by years of private shame. Will her secretiveness end up costing her everything, including her sanity? That’s the burning question that will keep readers engaged until the very end.

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