One of the joys of being a voracious reader is that it allows one to explore new writers on the scene, without ignoring our tried-and-true favorites. After all, a new writer today could very well be a legend of tomorrow. There is often a freedom in debuts, a sense that the writer is willing to take chances that perhaps someone further along in their career might not be willing to risk. Take for example Heather Levy’s Walking Through Needles – a book that stands out as quite unique among a cookie-cutter world of psychological crime novels.

The moment one begins reading Walking Through Needles, it is clear this is going to be a raw and unflinching journey – as emotional for the reader as it is for the characters within the story. Heather Levy’s authorial voice has an immediate, unapologetic, and erotic-tinged vibe that simultaneously lulls and lures any reader willing to give consent. And really, readers should know going in that this is a deeply disturbing story that could contain triggers related to many sexual topics, so please proceed with caution.

Walking Through Needles is told by two characters – one female and one male – and takes place primarily in two time-periods. Each of these characters – step-siblings Sam and Eric – is given a voice in both time-periods, so readers are able to witness their growth and evolution across the years. In 1994, these two characters are in their later teens, a time of great confusion and experimentation and by the time readers see them again in 2009, life lessons have been learned and hopefully some wisdom gained. Some of the strongest passages involve the older versions of these two, reflecting on their youth – something all humans are prone to do, however the past these two share is a traumatic one. Judging whether this forced reflection is truly healing is a debate that will be waged for years, but there is little doubt that Heather Levy allows it all to unfold before the reader’s eyes.

In a nutshell, the past presents a blended family dynamic that is troubled (at best) and toxic (at worst), leading to events that cause Sam and Eric to lose contact for years. Their lives are once again up-ended when a murder in 2009 leads to Eric becoming the prime suspect and Sam wanting – needing – to defend him, even though doing so may mean exposing some secrets Sam would much rather never reveal.

In many ways, this seems like a book that only Heather Levy could have written. She is fearless in tackling a myriad of difficult themes and topics, but also brave enough to include some non-traditional sexual kinks – always managing to do both with compassion, understanding, and lack of judgement. While this book may be too dark from some readers, it does welcome an extremely talented crime writer to the fold and watching how her style develops over the next few novels is going to be fascinating.

BUY LINKS: Walking Through Needles by Heather Levy

Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.