Once I discovered the fun of BookCrossing.com, I decided to weed through all my old books, decide what I wanted to keep in my permanent collection, and get rid of the rest. Of course, that means reading or re-reading some of the stacks and piles and bookshelves full of books, some of which I bought in huge bags on sale tables. One such unread book was Twice Burned by Kit Craig.
::: The Bobbsey Twins, They Ain't :::
In Twice Burned, we are introduced to a set of twins, Jane and Emily, who live with their mother Vivian and grandmother. A groundskeeper and his mysterious son also live on the estate. From the beginning, you know that there is something creepy about the twins, as they live in a shared suite of rooms on the third floor of their grandmother's manse with an entire collection of toys and their own secret language, even at the age of 14.
Mysterious conversations take place between Vivian and her mother about splitting the twins up for their own good, and soon Vivian dies unexpectedly, leaving the grandmother to call in their father, who hasn't seen the girls since Vivian took off with them as babies. Steve Harriman has a new wife, Carol, who has no idea he has been married before, or that he has children, and he leaves to go get the girls without giving his new wife much explanation.
In no time flat, Steve also meets an untimely end, and, defying all logic, Carol accepts custody of the girls and vows to make them a family, returning with Jane and Emily to Florida, to the old house she grew up in as an orphan with her three spinster aunts and potential pedophile uncle.
Veiled conversations between the groundskeeper and his son reveal that the twins are actually the children of a twin, and that Vivian had a twin of her own who died young. They are also all aware of some sort of something about the twins, but no one will come out and say it.
As Carol happily tries to create a new life for herself and the twins back in her hometown (and conveniently, back at her old newspaper job), the son of the groundskeeper combats his agoraphobia to travel about the country trying to find out the "truth" about the twins, while a serial killer is apparently loose in the town Carol and the twins are living.
::: V.C. Andrews Meets William Faulkner While Mary Higgins Clark Goes Out To Lunch :::
The whole twins in the attic with their Dresden looks and Laura Ashley dresses and creepy happenings reeks of V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic and subsequent novels. Then throw in the backwater Florida setting Carol moves the twins to with the pedophilic old uncle and spinster aunts and say a few hundred more pages and you might have yourself a pale comparison to a Faulkner novel. But the problem is that there really just isn't that much suspense. There is virtually no character development for any of the characters, with so much told in backstory you are just supposed to accept their actions. Why on earth would someone take in twins she never knew existed, children of a husband she'd only just married?
Somewhere in this novel is the germ of an idea that fell totally flat. From the moment Vivian dies, there is not one ounce of suspense in the book, and the ending is so deliberately vague and anticlimactic that you just might find yourself laughing.