Harm: Hugh Fraser
Did you ever want to lock yourself away inside of a room and throw away the key so that nothing and no one can harm you? Would you have want to place yourself within a box, lock it from the outside and have everyone and everything you care about locked within the sides of this box with you? What happens when you life is not your own and many use you for what they think you can do for them? What happens when someone misconstrues your outward appearance for that of a person lacking intelligence? Beauty is just skin deep but intelligence and cunning are deeper. Living in a place where drugs and guns are sold on the street, a mother who drinks her way through the day, two younger siblings to rear and care for and a father who is abusive it is no wonder that Rina Walker lives on the edge. We meet her as an adult before the author creates her back-stories as a teen. The year is 1974 and Rina is no longer a 15 year old teen that we meet later on but a woman for hire who kills for money to stay alive. Choices are often our own to make but in her case unless she agrees to take these people out she might be next. Never wanting to hurt anyone that is an innocent bystander Rina’s roots, her first killing and the fact she was protecting her sister come shining through. Raped by a man and given no help from a mother who was in the next room and knew exactly what was going on, how does your father allow his business partner to do this to you? But, rape is just the beginning as she tries to foil his advances but when she no longer provides enough folly or entertainment for him he goes after her nine year old sister and then she takes things in her own hand. She kills him and with the help of her mother who seemed to sober up for a short time and two friends they take care of the body and nothing more is said. Thinking its all over is wrong and the victim’s brother has other plans for her and then one murder is just the beginning with more to follow. A neighborhood ruled by the Preston Family and having taken out one of its members she no longer has control of her life.
The author flashes back to where it all began and when the rapes started in 1956 when Rina was just fifteen. How can she reconcile her life, her decisions and her actions when she is trapped within herself with nowhere to go but down? Hearing her voice, her fears and her inner most thoughts she tries to justify what she needs to do hoping she survives yet every step of the way rationalizing that someday she might break free. Getting to know her friends and learning more about what the victim’s brother wants from her we also learn that she is forced to do more than just kill. Every step of the way she is being chased or someone is chasing her as in the present we find that she is in a hotel room with a dead body and someone comes to help he clean it up but the payment is huge. Imagine finding a head on your pillow in your hotel room and staying calm?
In the present we learn about a man named Lee who she has to pretend to be married to and finds her way to a rich man’s party where the end result is more carnage and violence. The evening seems to start out well and her relationship with the other couple involved quite graphic but the end result is their death and Rina being forced into a prison cell, charged with the murder of the man in her hotel room and once again bound by the rules set out by a dangerous drug cartel. Hearing their demands, understanding the end result we meet her after being placed in a jail cell, attacked and the specifications of her mission and her impending escape described. Hugh Fraser takes us deep inside the mind of this young woman as both a teen and adult as we hear her frustrations, understand what she hopes to accomplish and wonder whether she will self-destruct or not? Flashing to the past we understand what she is about to do and her fears for her younger brother who appears to be ill and how is she going to get him the care he needs? But, although the doctors tried nothing saved Jack and the end result was she lost him and much more. With her mother in denial and not a help at all Rina had no choice but to adhere to the threats from the Prestons and take out her mark. But, as the story moves ahead we learn more about Manuel, Guido and Lee the three who plan to make her a part of a million dollar drug purchase. But, there is no one she can trust and when she finally does escape with three women their relationships become quite vivid and her feelings for one rips her apart. Lies, betrayals, parallel events that occur in the past and then the present, murders side by side and one young women named Rina caught between finding her own niche in life, fighting for what was left of her family and hoping to escape both her past and present.
In the past Rina faces charges for murder and the witnesses that are questioned are those close to her and their betrayals and lies are they told to hurt her or to protect themselves from more Harm? Before the verdict could be presented the author provides a cunning twist and things change for her but losing her brother and mother hardened her even more, dealing with being forced into a life that she loved yet hated and blamed on her circumstances both economic and living conditions Rina takes her poor upbringing, lack of guidance, guilt and family loyalties to another level. In the present she strives to survive and once again falls prey to the wiles and lies of others thinking she is boxed in and in a no win situation from the start and has to comply to what Martin maps out, deal with dangerous drug dealers, find herself in different prison cells, falling in both time periods for someone out of reach and then winding up being the one person that finds excuses for her actions, justifies her motives and is the prime cause of her own Harm. Harm: Physically injury which is deliberately inflicted or moral injury that is inflicted both definitions fitting in this case. Rina Walker: Victim, Survivor or just plain mercenary! The police at her door, taking her in many times, not looking past her for crimes, trying to protect what little family from harm, Rina loses sight of herself and what she needs to survive at times. Georgia her sister protective of her own in a different ways and uses school as her safe haven and protection from the outside world by creating her own safety net. The ending is in both time periods is quite compelling and the fate of Rina yet to be determined as she faces on more harsh reality after another at the end of each parallel story deciding whether to leave it all behind, move forward or find a way to protect herself from more Harm. Will she unlock the box or keep it tightly shut and hide forever?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine