Once you reach this stage of any thriller—where the truth is
rapidly being revealed to the reader and the final showdown is
looming—it’s the author’s job to maintain the fast pace and
suspense until the final page, and to throw in a couple of great
Lucinda back to Philadelphia gave the plot a full circle feeling
that was quite intentional on my part. You have the sense that
Lucinda is a sitting duck—but that a character as resourceful as
she is won’t go down without a fight. What will she do? It was
tricky to write scenes from her viewpoint and to show her
vulnerability without tipping her hand to the reader.
Also, there were a lot of loose ends outside the Night Watchman
plot that needed to be tied up here in short order: Cam’s story,
Ava’s murder, Vic’s mission, Frank’s illness, Neal’s future,
Lucinda’s relationship with Randy, and her family conflict.
The author’s challenge—as with any novel—is to keep all of those
elements tied to the novel’s central themes. Here, those themes
revolve around trust, forgiveness, risk, a ticking clock, and, of
course, darkness and light.
Early on, we
learned that Lucinda cops to being afraid of only one thing in the
world: the dark. This was interpreted in a literal sense by Lucinda
herself, by those who know her, and by the Night Watchman. And of
course, it’s literally true—she sleeps with the light on.
But as the novel progressed, her fear of the dark proved—I hope!—to
be metaphoric. She’s a woman who, like so many of us, fears the
unknown, and who tries to maintain control in her life through
avoidance. She’s a control freak for whom things have spun out of
control. Now we see the irony that in a sense, she’s been living in
the dark for all this time—and that allowing herself to venture
into the unknown ultimately enables her character to step into the
light at last.
Our heroine is flawed—and thus, human. We needed to see her grow
and change on a personal level through the course of the story, and
to be accountable for where she is in her life—and where she wants
to go from here.
As Lucinda comes to terms with her past and her relationship with
her mother, there are gray areas—just like in real life. I worked
hard to make these scenes feel organic, and for the reader to
relate, on some level, to both women. Lucinda’s mother isn’t the
“bad guy” and Lucinda isn’t the “good guy” here. That would be
boring. They’ve both made mistakes.
Even as the pieces of her personal life were falling into place,
her peril was escalating. It was time to shake things up a little
in order to keep Lucinda one step ahead of the killer, and for the
author to stay one step ahead of the reader. And of course, the
truly frightening thing here is that the Night Watchman—who thrives
on control as much as our heroine does—remains a master puppeteer
almost to the very last page.
Good triumphs over evil in a satisfying suspense novel. That’s a
given. But because this book was a bit of a departure for me, the
Night Watchman’s final scene became a departure as well.
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