Can a witness to a mafia crime ever have a normal life? If that witness is a teenager with an I.Q. of 210, it can be done. When I finished reading Nora Roberts‘ fascinating and suspenseful book, The Witness, published in April, 2012, I couldn’t wait to talk about it and write about it This book was fantastic! There are several novels I have read more than once. This one, however, is the first one I have ever finished, and then within a few days started reading again. I couldn’t seem to get the main character, Liz (a.k.a., Abigail) out of my mind. She was brave, smart, beautiful… should I go on?
The book explores not only the ways in which all normal teenagers rebel against authority, but how devastating the withholding of parental love and affection can damage a child. It also deals with issues of trust, love, and romance, in addition to cyber crimes, organized crime, and justice. I believe it is one of Roberts’ best efforts.
As a 16-year-old girl, Elizabeth Fitch, with an I.Q. of 210, finally defies a psychologically abusive, domineering, robotic mother, and goes to the mall to buy her first “normal teenage clothes” where she runs into a classmate Julie. She then expertly creates fake IDs for herself and her new-found “friend”, Julie. The girls go out to a nightclub owned by the Russian Mafia, and life is changed forever.
I expected Elizabeth and Julie to end up being forced into the sex trade. Instead, Julie is killed, and Elizabeth (now calling herself Liz) witnesses the execution-style murder of one of the mobsters, and the murder of Julie, who happened to walk into the wrong room at the wrong time.
After dirty cops murder two of the U.S. Marshals who are staying with Liz in a safe house, she escapes, then appears twelve years later in Bickford, Arkansas, living a solitary life in a cabin similar to the one in this depiction inside the cover and on the end sheets of the book, designed by Meighan Cavanaugh.
By now Liz has become Abigail Lowery, and has an entirely different physical appearance. She has attended M.I.T. under an assumed name supported by false documents that she expertly created, is a computer whiz, is multi-lingual, an expert shot, and carries a Glock at all times. Although well-mannered, Abigail has few social skills, and has given up on ever having what she thinks is a “normal life”. At first, she resists the overtures of the local police chief, Brooks Gleason, but he isn’t discouraged. In fact, he is fascinated by her secretive behavior. It is through Brooks, his kindness, and his more “normal” family life that Abigail comes to trust, and to believe a normal life is possible, even for her.
A Real Page Turner
Although The Witness doesn’t “grab” the reader on the first page, it doesn’t take long to become hooked. Roberts then holds the attention of the reader right up to the last page.
This reader wasn’t ready for the story to end, and would love to see (read about) the reaction of Ilya Volkov when he learns the computer worm Abigail created has destroyed everything he has created. Could we please have a sequel?