Unlike a traditional mystery, we know who Nick’s attacker is within the first few chapters. The real mystery in The Damage is what happens after the assault. The book jumps between the months after the 2015 attack to 2019, when the detective assigned to the case, now facing a terminal diagnosis, looks for answers as to what really happened in the aftermath. The man suspected of Nick’s attack has long since vanished, and the detective believes Julia may know the truth. The Damage stands out for its depiction of the still taboo subject of male rape ... The Damage carefully and expertly captures the collective trauma of a close-knit family when one of its members is victimized, and the lengths to which they’ll go to find justice and healing.
In one of the novel’s most satisfying twists, however, it is Julia who faces the most extreme test of all. 'The naive little house cat who believed in rules and order was being toppled by the puma who knew that some days, the only law is kill or be killed,' she realizes of herself as the novel reaches its sly denouement. Throughout, the author deftly employs alternating points of view to expose the psychological and emotional consequences of violence while sustaining a chilling atmosphere of suspense. A deeply humane and affecting psychological thriller by a debut author.