“The hall was immersed in darkness, with only the buzzing sound of the air-conditioning system and his heartbeat breaking the silence.”
From the first sentence of the first chapter, P.J. Mann already gives readers a glimpse of what her crime thriller and mystery novel is all about. It is about the dark emotions that propel people to envy and betray others. These feelings can turn brother against brother, father and mother against son, and a son into a life of crime. But the story is also about a heart—the heart of Stephan Mills who is imprisoned because of his own brother, whose whole family will be turned against him, and whose journey will polish him from a rough stone into a brilliant diamond.
Although Stephan is born into a wealthy family, he and his brother have always fought for their parents’ attention. Roger, the older son, wants their father’s affection, which is reluctantly given to Stephan; while Stephan wants their mother’s love, which is wholly given to Roger. Roger grows up to be a behind-the-scenes schemer while Stephan becomes an openly misguided troublemaker. The tension between the brothers reaches a peak when Roger, using his connections with the Russian mafia, gives the police a tip-off, which sends Stephan to prison for burglary. Roger drives the nail into the coffin when he convinces their father to let Stephan stay in jail so that the boy would learn a lesson. In just one night, Stephan loses both his family and his freedom. Will he sink lower into the darkness as he meets hardened criminals in prison or will he fight back and claim what he feels is his due?
Mann skillfully weaves the psychological drama of a family’s relationship falling apart with the complex page-turning suspense and action of a first-rate crime novel. We see how her flawed and multi-faceted characters interact with hate, love, revenge, friendship, regret, and, finally, find peace after reflecting on the consequences of their actions and imperfections.