Book Review: “Cracked” by Barbara Leslie

Danny Cleary wasn’t always a drug addict, but when things go south with her marriage, she finds herself in the vice-like grip of a crack cocaine addiction. Danny continues on this path for a while, indulging in drugs with her friend Gene and dodging bill collectors and other problems. She usually doesn’t answer the phone, and it is because of this habit that she finds out about her twin sister Ginger’s death via a voicemail.

Danny always wanted the kind of life that Ginger had. She married her high school sweetheart, a man named Fred, and had a wonderful life in Orange County. Danny, ashamed of the mess that her life had become, was afraid to mention her addiction or other problems to her sister, but when Fred blames Danny for Ginger’s death, and Danny learns that her sister, who had never done drugs, was found with a needle in her arm, Danny begins to wonder if Ginger’s death is somehow connected to her. When someone posing as her takes off with her sister’s children, Danny sees red, and she and her brother make the trip to California to try to get to the bottom of things.

I’m going to admit that I wasn’t really sure what to think about this book. I enjoy a good mystery, and this book definitely has a good mystery and some killer suspense elements. However, I found myself a bit put-off by some of the detailing here.

The main character, Danny, is dealing with a cocaine habit that spans out over several years. This is an expensive habit, and it’s clear that she’s hooked – she’s dodging bill collectors and trying to get her slightly unhinged dealer to front her some of the drug because she can’t pay for it. She doesn’t even like to answer her phone. She finds out about her sister’s death from a voicemail. In that regard, I found that aspect of Cracked to be more than a bit unrealistic. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around this character being able to function clearly as the events in the novel unfolded.

There’s also a staggering amount of violence in this book. Danny is rightfully upset, of course. Her sister has been murdered, her nephews have been taken, and somehow, it all ties back to her. Unfortunately, she spends the book dodging the cops rather than looking for help, and goes a bit vigilante on the bad guys. To that regard, I was somewhat shocked to learn that Cracked is the first book in a series, because a lot of people die, and some of it is almost over-the-top graphic.

I won’t spoil the ending, but all I can say is that after reading Cracked, I’m definitely curious to see where the series will lead us next.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.