Review: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone (thriller/mystery)

Format: ebook, hardcover, trade paperback
Pub Date: August 1, 2018
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (Amazon)
Length: 282 pages in the trade ARC
POV: 1st person, present tense
FTC: review copy courtesy of the author/publisher at RT18

For those who don't know, Victoria Helen Stone is the alter ego of romance novelist Victoria Dahl. Jane Doe is NOT A ROMANCE. It's also written in first person, present tense, which yes, I know, I usually avoid like the plague. But if you read mysteries and thrillers, and if you follow Victoria Dahl on Twitter or have read her romances, you will probably enjoy this delicious book of revenge.

Reading this book was almost therapeutic for me. It’s like Victoria took all of the rage I’ve felt since Nov 2016, all of the disgust I’ve felt for mansplaining dudes on the internet, all of my frustration watching people make excuses for abusive dickwads, and made an outlet for it in the form of a book.

If you've ever watched her toying with the birth control trolls on Twitter, this book is a lot like that, but taken to a darker extreme. Jane, our narrator, is a sociopath, manipulating an emotional abuser while on a quest to ruin his life the way he ruined hers. She's used to analyzing other people's emotions in an attempt to mimic them, so she can parse every abusive manipulation Steven tries to use. The negging. The control. The digs about her appearance.

It's incredibly creepy watching as Steven tries to manipulate her. It's spelled out. But it's also kind of satisfying watching as Jane pretends to react the way he expects while also plotting how to use each and every one of his abusive tactics against him. She's dissecting his game in real time. It's one of the reasons why present tense works so very well. Because the reader is following along as Steven is attempting to manipulate her with Jane explaining what he's doing as he's doing it. It's incredibly effective.

For me, the suspense was wondering just how far Jane was going to go. Not even she is sure until the end exactly what she's capable of.

Hats off to the author for putting together such a raw and powerful book. Honestly the best book I've read in ages.

My grade: A

The Blurb:
A double life with a single purpose: revenge.
Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.
But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.
Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.
Just as he did to her.