Tipping PointTipping Point by Cynthia MacLean

As you might guess by the cover, Tipping Point is an unusual book for me to be reviewing on my blog, a blog generally dedicated to New Zealand fiction reviews and my own musings about my writing journey.

So – what gives, Antony? Well, as with my first (and thus far only) music review, I know the author of Tipping Point, this time from my school days at Dr W.A. MacLeod School in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. So, I knew about Cynthia Maclean, now living in New Brunwick, and about Tipping Point even before it was released.

To be clear, I don’t read and review everything produced by friends and contacts, but I was intrigued by the description for Tipping Point:

Anna has dark secrets embedded into the tapestry of her past. A carefully constructed wall separates her history from Sean, a handsome detective, who aims to understand Anna completely. Anna’s cryptic life just may lead Sean’s investigation down a road to horror and heartache. And she will do everything in her power to not let that happen.

Perhaps I’m a sucker for characters with dark secrets. Thankfully, this intrigue was sustained at the beginning which started promising enough – until the romantic elements were introduced.

These are an important part of the story, of course, and I should have anticipated romance from the description, but I am generally not interested in the romance genre. With the introduction of the burgeoning relationship between protagonist Anna and detective Seam, there’s a bit of swooning going on. Bearing in mind that intriguing description, I pressed on.

Things changed for the better (though fairly abruptly) when I began to learn Anna’s terrible secret life. Without giving too much away, let’s just say Anna’s breaking bad, but her potter’s kiln is akin to Walter White’s body-sized plastic tubs. I certainly found the story more compelling as I recognised this was not romance, but femme fatale.

It’s about justice and revenge in the end for Anna, though we learn that this initially endearing character is plagued by traumatic events and genuine emotional and mental illness. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of her activities is the way she (and the narrator) minimises the horror – understating her crimes as if she has a few mere foibles placing her just outside the parameters of normalcy.

Tipping Point is a novella and could have been developed into a longer novel as there is a concept and characters here worth exploring more in depth. However, as a short piece of fiction, MacLean does not over complicate things and stays focused on the events surrounding just a few main characters.

As MacLean’s first book, there are some teething moments in terms of technique and language, including some confusing commentary on events early on. However, Tipping Point held my interest (once I accepted and persevered through the romantic elements) and I did find I could picture the main characters and even worried for Sean’s safety, so the writing was effective – at least in providing me with some much-needed escapism over a rainy weekend and an opportunity to check in on the creative endeavours of a friend.

Follow Cynthia MacLean’s writing journey on her website and on Facebook.

Tipping Point can be purchased in either paperback or Kindle editions on Amazon.

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of three novels: Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga and The Chain.

Smashwords Cover Te_Kauhanga_Cover_for_Kindle (2)The_Chain_Cover_for_Kindle

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