By: Brent Jones
Publication Date: June 2018
Reviewed by: Skyler Boudreau
By day, Afton Morrison is a children’s librarian in small town Wakefield. By night, she stalks a known sexual predator throughout her town. This man will be her first kill. The murderous instincts she has suppressed for most of her adult life demand action and, combined with her meticulous attention to detail and a plan inspired by real-life serial killers, she might just get away with it.
Author Brent Jones holds nothing back from his readers. From the opening scene, we are thrust into Afton’s head as she watches her prey from the shadows. Readers learn right away that her target is a bad man, but they also learn that Afton isn’t necessarily a hero.
Afton knows this too. She is eerily self-aware of her actions. While she wants to kill the predator because he is a danger to women, she also wants to do it for the sake of killing. The reader isn’t entirely sure whether they want her to succeed or not.
What’s more, Afton is being stalked by someone herself, a mysterious man she calls “the Man in Shadows.” Between organizing a murder and looking over her shoulder for her own pursuer, Afton can’t relax. Neither can the reader.
The tension introduced in the first chapter is carried throughout the entire novel. Just as the reader starts to relax, Jones throws a new wrench into the story. He does a fantastic job of layering suspense.
One of the creepiest things about Go Home, Afton, is the darkness hidden in the mundane. Afton takes great care in her cover as a children’s librarian. For most of the novel she is painstakingly diligent in making certain that no trail leads back to her. When she finally does slip up, the reader is startled. They remember that murder is not an easy thing to get away with. There are plenty of real-life murderers who were also convinced they would never be caught.
There is a plethora of novels about serial killers. What sets this one apart is that Afton has not yet committed her first murder. It’s portrayed as a much-anticipated coming of age event, like an eighteenth birthday or getting married. There’s something infinitely creepier about being inside the head of someone like that. She is fastidious in her planning and the most unnerving part about it all is that she explains everything in such a logical and reasonable way that the reader needs to remind themselves she is planning someone’s death and not a social function.
The ending is one of this novel’s strongest components. Everything comes together, and Brent Jones introduces a sudden plot twist in the final few pages that will leave his readers aching for the sequel.
My only criticism is that little is left for the reader to infer on their own. While Afton’s explanation of her own motives works well for the suspense of the story, I found some of her analyses of other people to be a little distracting. They pulled me out of the action and it was difficult to get back into it at times.
Quill says: Go Home, Afton is the first of a four book series. With such a gripping start, the author has set high expectations that I have no doubt will be met. I look forward to seeing what other work he has to offer!