Publication Date: March 17, 2014
In The Monitor by Cathy Vasas-Brown, Lt. Carolyn Latham investigates the suicide of four teens that came from varied parts of the country to Cypress Village, Oregon in order to die together. Following their trail, Carolyn discovers a world she’d never imagined. An organized support group for those waiting to “take the bus” orchestrated by a mysterious Monitor. When a Japanese teen that has withdrawn from the world and is living with his uncle in the United States disappears, Carolyn knows that she doesn’t have much time to save this teenager’s life. The Monitor is the second book to feature Lt. Carolyn Latham by Cathy Vasas-Brown.
The author gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
There’s something almost soul cleansing about a really good psychological thriller. Cathy Vasas-Brown doesn’t write good psychological thrillers; she writes great psychological thrillers. I would liken her style to that of Chelsea Cain, one of the best psychological thriller writers out there. In The Monitor, Vasas-Brown builds a scarily familiar world of teen isolationism and despair with a puppet master that leads the teens to believe that the ultimate connection and release comes through dying together. As with The Gentleman in Vasas-Brown’s novel The Monitor, the character, The Monitor is a brilliant master manipulator almost impossible to trace. As his fantasies are fed, The Monitor needs more and he needs for the spectacle to be bigger and better each time to feed his fire. Vasas-Brown approaches her tale with a logical elegance asking the question “Do you know what your child is doing online?”
The Monitor is a story with a lot of moving parts. We follow The Monitor and the pro-suicide online forum. We’re learning about Japanese tradition and culture with Joshua, a social worker, who counsels Yoshi who is practicing hikikomori. The author educates the reader while entertaining us. I’m not a therapist, so I don’t know if Joshua’s approach is realistic but it feels like it might be and that’s what matters in the flow of the story. Vasas-Brown clearly either researched or came to the table with a lot of knowledge, and her ability to keep the Joshua and Yoshi storyline consistent feels like a special feat as it merges with Carolyn’s timeline.
Vasas-Brown’s characters are vivid and real. Carolyn is working on this case but, as reality would dictate, her life goes on. She has an emotionally draining meeting with her ex-husband who has found that the grass isn’t always greener and struggles with sleeplessness and identifying with a girl who seemed to struggle with identity. Carolyn is truly a cop who stands for the dead and she forms a special emotional bond with this neglected and demeaned teenager. Carolyn is rounded by having a cause in her case and that cause is the one child not reported missing. These are characters and situations that stay with you.
The Monitor is a stunning read that simply cannot be put down. With each twist and turn the reader simply cannot put the novel down.The Monitor appears to be carefully and skillfully edited with no extraneous parts, an important element in a work 361 pages long. This is a novel that reads well. An excellent “in one sitting” work whether on vacation or on a weekend off. The ending is appropriately stunning and will thrill readers who like the artistry of fiction. Cathy Vasas-Brown is the author of several novels. Click here to read our review of Safe as Churches.
The Monitor is a brilliant story. Read an excerpt and pick up The Monitor by Cathy Vasas-Brown today on: