STARRED REVIEW
January 13, 2015

Worse than the boogeyman

By Elisabeth de Mariaffi
Review by

We’ve all been there, wondering late at night: Is that tap-tap-tap sound we’re hearing coming from the radiator pipes, or are those footsteps on the stairs? For Evie Jones, the cub reporter and amateur sleuth at the center of Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s chilling psychological thriller, anxious moments like these have become a way of life. The Devil You Know takes readers on a rollercoaster ride through Evie’s desperate efforts to rid herself of the childhood horrors that have followed her into adulthood.

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We’ve all been there, wondering late at night: Is that tap-tap-tap sound we’re hearing coming from the radiator pipes, or are those footsteps on the stairs? For Evie Jones, the cub reporter and amateur sleuth at the center of Elisabeth de Mariaffi’s chilling psychological thriller, anxious moments like these have become a way of life. The Devil You Know takes readers on a rollercoaster ride through Evie’s desperate efforts to rid herself of the childhood horrors that have followed her into adulthood.

Evie is 22, living alone for the first time in a Toronto apartment and working the crime beat for the local paper. Any young adult starting out this way might feel anxious from time to time. Evie, however, carries some traumatic baggage from childhood: Her best friend, Lianne Gagnon, was raped and murdered when the girls were 11 years old, and the murderer has never been found. Now Evie’s boss has assigned her to research Lianne’s case and the cold cases of several other murdered children, bringing the long-ago nightmare into the present in a very real way.

Writing in an intense stream-of-consciousness style, de Mariaffi takes us tumbling through Evie’s growing obsession with the murderer and her mounting suspicion that he’s not only still alive, but very close by. Evie’s fears seem reasonable, except that she sometimes sees shadows that aren’t really there and remembers things that never really happened. Confabulations, her therapist calls these false memories; her traumatized mind fills in the blanks so convincingly that she doesn’t always know reality from fantasy.

Evie is the ultimate unreliable narrator, yet de Mariaffi puts us right in her head, where we can’t help but sympathize. Most of all, we feel the overwhelming need Evie has to solve this thing, even if it means risking relationships and maybe her own life. By turns panicky and plucky, Evie’s determination eventually wins out, and the pieces of her past come together in a startling but satisfying conclusion.

The Devil You Know is de Mariaffi’s first novel, but she masters the art of pacing and ratchets up the tension page by page throughout Evie’s journey. Fans of psychological thrillers like Gone Girl will root for Evie’s version of the truth right to the end.

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The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know

By Elisabeth de Mariaffi
Touchstone
ISBN 9781476779089

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