The Art of Fear introduces us to two main characters – Ari, who has been held responsible for the hit and run of her little sister Carli for the majority of her life, and Tina, who changed her name from Sophia after escaping a life of child sex trafficking her father sold her into. Their paths cross at a suicide support group that Ari sets up, for those who have attempted suicide in the past, feel suicidal or have experienced the suicide of a loved one. Tina attends this group after the apparent suicide of her father Josef, but obviously it becomes much more complex than that otherwise we wouldn’t have a novel to read just a short story of a few pages.
The two women get really close really quickly, which I guess needs to happen from the perspective of the storyline because everything develops at a really intense and fast-paced rate. There’s Josef’s killer to track down, there’s a whole lot of guilt to unpack and the main characters have a habit of getting hurt by the big mysterious baddie that every thriller has.
Tina is a much more complicated character than Ari simply because of what she’s been through, her trust issues are completely understandable and even her ability to hold things back and lie – she’s been burned that many times that I couldn’t really be mad at her for that, although Ari certainly was at times. The example would be the discussions and worry about baby Giana and where to find her, it’s a late entry into the story because of Tina holding back but as the story evolves you empathise, sympathise and begin to understand everything she’s not letting on.
We’re also introduced to big bad child sex trafficker George Battan, responsible for the trauma of Tina’s childhood and her loss of innocence. There’s a whole evolving storyline about the debts of Josef and his wife Mercedes and what apparently ‘necessitated’ Tina’s sale into the sex trade. What struck me as quite interesting was how this mingled with Ari’s story and the death of young Carli all those years ago. It was something they were hinting at in the beginnings of the story but held back the true scope of how bad it was until the bitter end, no doubt gripping you into buying the sequel. But I think I might, so it definitely served its purpose.