All's fair in love

All's fair in love

See Me
Nicholas Sparks
2015, pp 482, Rs 350

A damsel in distress with a flat tire in a dark, stormy night. Along comes a seriously goodlooking man with a badly bruised face. He offers her help. She’s too terrified to accept, but realises she has no other option. He quietly changes the tire and both of them go their separate ways. Period.

However, fate has other plans. C’mon, it’s Nicholas Sparks. You can’t expect this encounter to not lead anywhere, can you? So, we have Maria Sanchez, the damsel in distress, and Colin Hancock, the man with the badly bruised face, crossing paths again, and before they know it, they are in love. They are not the most ideal of pairs, though. She, a Duke-educated lawyer with a great job, and he, a man with a dark past and hot temper whose another brush with law can land him behind bars. But, as they say, love conquers all. Even as they are beginning to grow comfortable in each other’s company, some events from Maria’s past begin to haunt her menacingly.

Rewind mode: During Maria’s employment as an assistant district attorney in Charlotte, she had dealt with the case of a Cassie Manning who was killed by her jilted lover, Gerald Laws. The Manning family had held Maria responsible for Cassie’s death as she had not “lobbied the district attorney and insisted that they charge Laws with a felony”, when Laws had physically assaulted Cassie, with the result that Laws was out of prison in no time, and wreaked revenge by killing Cassie.

The death of Cassie had led to a chain of events wherein the mother, unable to bear the tragedy of her daughter’s murder, had committed suicide; the father had his medical license suspended; and the younger brother had landed in a psychiatric facility. And, Maria had started receiving threatening mails, forcing her to quit her job and come back home, to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Cut to the present, just when Maria, now employed in a law firm of repute, thinks her past has been put to rest, for good, does she start receiving anonymous notes that just read — “You will know how it feels” or “You don’t think I know what you did?”, followed by several threats of violence and haunting notes. With a stalker on the loose and the threat of violence looming large, the very foundation of Maria’s peaceful existence seems to take a bad beating. As the mystery elements of the plot develop, Maria seems to be consumed by the very dilemmas she seeks to resolve, while Colin is caught between a disturbing past and a present that promises dramatic possibilities...

It has all the trappings of an interesting tale — romance, action, drama and office politics. Add to it the uncanny ability of the storyteller to narrate well. Little wonder then that See Me is quite appealing. The story takes us on a romantic ride with a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in. Like many of his previous books that have seen the big screen, it will not be a surprise if See Me too makes the cut with its Made-For-Hollywood storyline.
On the flip side, though, reams devoted to Colin’s workouts and fighting encounters tend to make the book bulkier, and a tad boring. However, if you have enjoyed his The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, there’s no doubt you’ll savour the experience of See Me too. Such is the effortless switch of tone from that of a soft love story to that of a suspenseful thriller.

The narrative begins slowly, but quickly picks up steam, enticing the reader to thumb through the pages at a frenetic pace. Proof enough of the author’s flair for writing. Talking of characterisation in the book, according to Sparks’s website, they “are among my favourites that I have ever created.” We believe you, boss.

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