BOOK REVIEW: False Step by Victoria Helen Stone (Domestic Thriller)

False Step
Victoria Helen Stone

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication:  July 1, 2019
Number of Pages:  278

Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.
For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home. In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden. But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared.

I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review. 

I had heard great things about the author’s previous book, Jane Doe, which was on my TBR, so I was incredibly excited to be contacted for the opportunity to read and review this new book. 

From the very beginning, a disarming tone is set up that suggests not everything is what it seems. From the details and outcome of the kidnapping to the Bradley’s relationship and marriage, happiness is futile. In much the same vein as books like THE LAST MRS. PARRISH and GONE GIRL, these characters are unlikeable and unreliable. They don’t trust each other and we can’t trust them. 

“She loved having secrets. She loved that no one in her life knew everything about her. She was a puzzle, and only she had all the pieces.”
This certainly made for an interesting dynamic in the journey as we followed Veronica to the shocking truth! Although I knew there was going to be a twist, it was truly hard to pin down until it ultimately happened. 

“She wasn’t above suspicion so much as below notice, and these days that was just fine with her.”

The tension is fantastically built as Veronica slowly tries to figure out what is going on; however, the pacing tended to slow down considerably as she spent a lot of time dwelling on how the various men in her life regarded women. This isn’t to say that those reflections aren’t important as each moment is incredibly thought-provoking. Compelling conversations regarding mother-daughter relationships could certainly be discussed from the interactions that occur or the memories that are referenced within the story; however, Veronica never vocalizes these thoughts to anyone. Rather than being honest and opening herself up to that vulnerability, these generational problems continue, and unfortunately, Sydney, Veronica’s daughter, will become its latest victim. 

“But she’d set aside her own hurt for her children. That was what mothers did.”

The author’s writing style while measured is quite captivating and voyeuristic, luring you into the gritty realities these characters have created for themselves. You don’t want to watch, but you can’t turn away. There are a few graphic sex scenes, but nothing is overly gratuitous or descriptive. As Veronica’s worries mount and Johnny’s decisions come home to roost, the story weaves together the selfishness of two self-described selfless individuals. 
As the betrayals build up, the pages will fly! And ultimately, these convoluted and conflicted relationships unravel into an unforgettable and grisly conclusion that shouldn’t be missed! 

Victoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, was born and raised in the flattest parts of the Midwest. Now that she’s escaped the plains of her youth, she writes dark suspense from an upstairs office high in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. She enjoys summer trail hikes with her family almost as much as she enjoys staying inside during the winter. Since leaving the lighter side of fiction, she has written the critically acclaimed, bestselling novels Evelyn, AfterHalf Past; and Jane Doe.

Many thanks to Little Bird Publicity and the author! It was an absolute pleasure reading and reviewing! 

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