Book Review: Damage

One night. One crime. One family torn apart…

Caitlin Wahrer ~ Damage


Tony has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when he’s called to a hospital where Nick is lying battered and bruised after a violent sexual assault, his protective instincts flare.

Tony’s wife, Julia, has cases involving kids all the time. When Detective Rice gets assigned to Nick’s, Julia feels they’re in good hands. Especially because she senses that Rice, too, understands how things can quickly get complicated.

After all, one moment Nick was having a drink with a handsome stranger; the next, he was at the centre of an investigation threatening to tear him and his family, apart. And now his attacker, out on bail, is disputing Nick’s version of what happened.

As Julia tries to help her brother-in-law, she sees Tony’s desire for revenge, to fix things for Nick, getting out of control. And before long, she finds herself asking: does she really know what her husband is capable of? Or of what she herself is?


I’m a big fan of crime thrillers and the first chapter of this book sucked me in and I was suitably excited for the ride.

Unfortunately the rest of the book didn’t deliver; it dragged on, wasn’t engaging and the ending was underwhelming. Had the book had been classified as a different genre, I think I would have enjoyed it more; it didn’t feel like a thriller. Given the author’s background, I was hoping for more detail on the legal aspects, but as there never was a trial, it fell flat. There was also little to no action throughout and the ‘twists’ were expected and not in anyway surprising. It was more about family, the ripple effect of the incident and morality.

But this is where Wahrer finds her strength. There are some beautiful moments between characters, which makes them relatable, and the back story we do see provides context on each character’s journey. However, I would have liked to have seen more written about the effects of Nick’s rape on each character, including Ray’s family and Julia’s children.

As for Detective Rice, his presence was almost unnecessary and it wasn’t clear why he was so taken with Julia and her ‘goodness’. This idea of a moral dilemma didn’t bother me as it has others; I think many of us would do whatever it takes to protect our family. The constant reference to Elisa and Mathis did give away this ‘twist’ as it was obvious Julia was planning something (and had already set up an alibi for Tony). It was also sad that Julia actually believed her husband capable of murder – he had worked so hard to change who he was expected to be, so the idea that he would risk losing everything didn’t sit right.

This debut had potential, but was too long and the overall aim of the story felt confused and weak.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was provided with a copy of this book by Grazia for their Book Club. All opinions my own.

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