Sure, the book is called Valentine. Typical love story? Not so much.
Tom Savage’s 1997 thriller is, in fact, the complete opposite of a love story. It’s filled with stalking, murder, mystery, and a twist that somehow manages to be both totally surprising and completely obvious, all at the same time.
Valentine weaves together a current-day stalker story with a backstory so rich that it’s impossible not to be sucked into this story. As the book begins, best selling suspense author Jillian Talbot is working on her upcoming novel, but when she realizes that she’s begun to live her fictional stalker story, she backs off from writing all together and instead does throws all of her energy into avoiding her nefarious secret admirer, and, in turn, surviving what she’s certain is an impending demise.
You see, during her college days, Jill and three other girls were involved in a mean-spirited practical joke. Now the other three girls are all dead or missing, and each disappeared or died around Valentine’s Day. As the holiday approaches, Jill is certain she’s next. If her stalker has anything to say about it, she’s correct.
The book is an “easy” read — meaning that it’s moves quickly and it doesn’t take a lot of concentration to follow, though the subject matter is sometimes a little bit difficult to deal with. Despite some of the disturbing details, Savage’s book is engrossing compelling. Is it one I’ll remember several years from now? Eh, maybe not, but it provided me with some entertainment for a few days.
As a mother of little girls, the idea that this kind of stalking situation, though obviously dramatized, could be a reality is absolutely terrifying. In his author’s note at the end of the book, Savage makes a plea for stronger laws against these types of crimes. He writes:
“I have seen the statistics, and they are unacceptable: stalking is perhaps one of the most prevalent—and potentially avoidable—major crimes in the world today. With newer, stronger laws than those we presently have, we may be able to do something about it.”
In the same note, Savage talks briefly makes reference to actress Teresa Saldana’s Victims for Victims organization, the made-for-TV movie by the same name, and Saldana’s book, Beyond Survival. As a result of her stalking experience, Saldana lobbied for an anti-stalking law in 1990, which ultimately passed.
Sometimes it takes a shocking and dramatic story to make us more aware of the dangers that lurk in the world, and with Valentine, Tom Savage has definitely written something that opened my eyes.
A Valentine’s Day love story? Not so much, but engrossing and educational, nonetheless. And, it appears I’m not the only one who thought so — with 82 reviews on Amazon, the book has earned 4.5 stars.