Fresh Meat: One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler

One Way or Another by Elizabeth Adler is a thriller that opens aboard a luxury yacht where a woman is thrown into the ocean in a clear case of attempted murder (available July 7, 2015).

In Elizabeth Adler’s latest thriller, a young woman named Angie is bludgeoned aboard a luxury yacht, thrown overboard, and left for dead in the waters of the Aegean. Marco Polo Mahoney, famed portrait painter, is the only witness from his Turkish seaside cottage. Despite his best efforts to rescue her — or at the very least find her body — she eludes him. Soon, he is unable to get the thought of the drowning girl out of his head. This tests his relationship with London-based Martha Patrons, a multi-talented interior decorator with a lovely, irresponsible aspiring actress of a younger sister, Lucy. Martha is as practical as she is beautiful, and though she is supportive of her lover, she has other issues to deal with, such as the foreign billionaire who has recently started showing a little too much interest in seventeen year-old Lucy. Unfortunately for Martha, Lucy’s fate is set to be intertwined with Angie’s, sucking them all unwitting into a vortex of terror and death.

Hurtling rapidly from one plot twist to the next, One Way Or Another blends the glitz of an international thriller with high Gothic touches. Remarkably, this novel reminded me of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though there is nary a supernatural element in sight in this globe-trotting tale of murder and vengeance. The villains are monstrous and mysterious, diabolical figures at odds with heroes who stand for normalcy and propriety (despite intermittent moments of weakness.) A sort of Victorian morality permeates the proceedings, with the strong, loving ties between Marco, Martha, and Lucy being the highlight of the book’s interpersonal relationships.

At the heart of it all though is Angie, the literally and metaphorically fallen woman. Her chapters are written in a first-person narrative, providing glimmers of insight and introspection, as in this passage where she is first regaining consciousness after plunging into the sea:

Am I now a “body”? A mere creature? A person from whom all emotion has been stilled? It’s strange but I can see myself, a smaller image of me, somewhere above my broken head, floating in a deep blue sky crisscrossed with meshes that tangle with my hair, pulling at my head, pulling me upward. Please, I want to say, please leave me. I am calm and peaceful here. I do not want to feel again, to have to remember my own vulnerability, my “innocence,” or at least the kind of innocence I thought I had, where I knew who I was.

This lyrical style of writing works really well for Angie’s chapters, bringing her voice alive. Lending further authenticity to the proceedings are Elizabeth Adler’s refined taste and painterly eye for details. Whether describing settings exotic or picturesque, or fashions in decor or dress, Ms. Adler has a gift for words that is unerringly illustrative. Here, Angie is describing the dress she’s been given to wear for what might prove to be the climactic showdown between her and those who wanted her dead:

[A] beautiful dress, velvet, black as the dark side of the moon, long narrow sleeves, low V-neck, tightly corseted waist, spilling into a swirl of a skirt, the folds of which were cut so as to make a woman look slender yet feminine and which I knew would swish sexily around my knees as I walked.

One Way Or Another is the perfect addition to a beach tote for idle, if somewhat dark, summer reading. Thoroughly escapist, it provides a window through which readers can safely peek into the world of glamor and depravity available to the ultra-wealthy, even as we root for our intrepid heroes to overcome the evil schemes of the villains.

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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She
microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

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