Review: The Power Couple by Alex Berenson
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Hardcover: Simon Schuster | Audiobook: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: HC: 432 pages | Audio: 12 hrs and 49 mins
A domestic suspense with just a hint of espionage and political thriller thrown into the mix, The Power Couple by Alex Berenson was fun read. Best of all, it felt like getting two books in one, and the author won’t reveal how everything is connected until the very end.
Rebecca and Brian Unsworth have been married for twenty years, so for their anniversary they’ve decided to do something truly special, like treating themselves and their kids to a much-needed vacation in Europe. But behind the façade of this happy all-American family is a rot that has been festering for quite some time. Consumed with her work at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rebecca has long been neglecting her relationships with her husband and children, leaving Brian quietly resentful even though her connections had helped him get a coder job at the NSA. Both are aware they’ve been slowly drifting apart, and their hope for this European getaway is that it will also help bring them closer together.
But one night in Barcelona, their teenage daughter Kira leaves for a dance club and doesn’t return to the hotel. Witnesses say she met an attractive stranger before leaving with him and some of his friends, the last anyone saw of any of them. Thus begins Kira’s terrifying journey as a kidnapping victim, taken for reasons she knows nothing about, though her captors seem to know a lot about her. Meanwhile, after the local police has done all they can, Rebecca and Brian scramble to mobilize their own resources in the US government to help track down their daughter. Surely, if Kira had just been a random target, her abductors shouldn’t be too hard to find. But what if it hadn’t been random? What if someone had gone after Kira to send a message?
Our story begins with practically no preamble, opening with the events leading up to Kira’s kidnapping, all of it unfolding from her point of view. After these harrowing sections, however, the narrative suddenly switches tack, flashing back all the way to Rebecca’s college days in law school. From there on out, we get the story of how she decided she was going to join the FBI, as well as how she met and fell in love with Brian, eventually getting married and starting a family. At first, this abrupt switch seemed counter-intuitive and even unwelcome, considering how rudely we were torn away from the present timeline and the heart-pounding events that were taking place. I wanted to know what was happening to Kira and what her parents were doing to get her back, so why on earth was my time being wasted with a rundown of Rebecca’s life story?
Well, suffice to say, I found out why in the end. This book is definitely a puzzle that requires all its pieces to make sense—put together the domestic suspense half with the half about the kidnapping, and voila, you have the key! Thriller fans will enjoy this story, which reminds me a little of Taken, but whereas Liam Neeson’s character was former CIA and Green Beret, Kira’s parents are not quite so badass. In fact, despite the novel’s title, Rebecca and Brian don’t hold much power at all at their respective agencies, though they do have some bureaucratic connections. Still, for the most part, the sections of the book dealing with the parents are less about the action and more about the mistrust and suspicions surrounding a poisonous marriage—themes that leave you on the edge of your seat in their own intense way.
As with most thrillers, the personalities of our characters also ended up playing a huge role. Brian and Rebecca are flawed individuals and neither of them inspire much sympathy, though that’s what makes books like this so fun. I loved how we got both their perspectives, allowing readers to compare and spot where their credibility might be compromised and speculate reasons as to why they would lie. It’s a guessing game all the way through, until the story ultimately culminates in a shocking yet satisfying ending.
The Power Couple was my first book by Alex Berenson, but after this, I’ll surely be looking out for more of his work. Had a great time with this one, with its compulsive storytelling and electrifying ambience. Recommended.