Inside Looking Out


Fiction - Drama
398 Pages
Reviewed on 11/27/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Inside Looking Out by Jeanne Tompkins opens on a strong note. While jogging, a police officer discovers a young woman who has been attacked, lying in the undergrowth of a nearby copse and covered in blood, her T-shirt torn to ribbons. Christopher Sky McKenzie calls for an ambulance and while at the hospital, he waits for her to wake up so he can get a statement. She does wake up, but with no memory and unable to speak. When Christopher meets Lindsay Shawcross again, it is several years later in court where she is charged with the murder of her mother, Dorothy Shawcross. What follows is a psychological thriller that explores themes of parenting, abuse, and a journey towards inner freedom for a young woman.

Jeanne Tompkins has written a story that is psychologically engaging and that makes a powerful case against child abuse. The protagonist has suffered a very painful trauma and continues to suffer at the hands of her mother. From the very beginning, the author forces readers to ask questions. The way Lindsay is presented is intriguing and I wanted to know who she is, who attacked her and why, and what eventually happens to her. There are passages that will arouse the indignation of readers, scenes that inspire pathos in them, and strong moments in the narrative that will have readers emotionally connected to the characters. Inside Looking Out is a compelling book with a very strong message, gripping and infused with realism.

Dan M. Kalin

Inside Looking Out relates the story of a young woman, Lindsay, who's subjected to a severe beating which renders her mute and an amnesiac. Slowly over a period of four years, she regains some memories. However, when her mother is murdered horribly and Lindsay is found holding the knife, things take a turn for the worse. Unable to speak for herself, she is on trial for murder without many supporters in her corner. Christopher McKenzie, the former policeman who found Lindsay after her beating four years earlier, is now a private investigator and convinced Lindsay is not the murderer. When Lindsay is found not guilty, due to forensic evidence, she is released without a place to call home. The McKenzie clan, aided and abetted by the judge from the trial, steps in to support Lindsay in finding a new life. Of course, there are still unanswered questions which need to be addressed beforehand.

Ms. Jeanne Tompkins has written what is primarily a love story, or rather several love stories, in the midst of a murder mystery. I found the extended McKenzie clan, a matriarch with five grown children, to be a fascinating mix of personalities. Inside Looking Out weaves many threads into a tapestry of guilt, love, betrayal, and crime as Lindsay struggles to literally find her own voice. The author poses each twist in the story in such a way so that the reader pushes relentlessly onward to the climax, which resolves almost all of the outstanding issues. I fully expect an intriguing sequel.

Lit Amri

On 2nd July 1990, 18-year-old Lindsay Shawcross was secretly searching for her birth certificate to apply for her passport in someone’s office but was caught and beaten. Although hurt, she escaped and was later found unconscious by Police Constable Christopher McKenzie in the bushes. After being rescued and brought to the hospital, she was traumatized, has lost her memory and was unable to speak. Four years later, the 22-year-old Lindsay was being accused of murdering her mother, Dorothy Shawcross. The news about her case brought Christopher-who was now working for his family private investigation firm-back into the life of the young woman. He never did get an explanation of what had happened to Lindsay four years ago, and this time he has a chance to find out the truth.

Inside Looking Out by Jeanne Tompkins has a steadily-paced plot that made the story slightly lean towards cozy mystery at first, but the elements of suspense and danger became more prominent as the story unfolded, including a dollop of romance. With several good twists in the plot, I liked that there was no sense of rushing in terms of the narrative. There's a nostalgic element in the writing style that at times made me forget that this story takes place in the '90s. The characters are memorable, particularly the protagonist Lindsay. Meanwhile, the McKenzie family has an interesting background which adds distinctiveness to them in terms of their former careers and heritage. All in all, Tompkins's Inside Looking Out is an easy and enjoyable read.

Viga Boland

Inside Looking Out is the first book of a trilogy author Jeanne Tompkins has planned based on the McKenzie family. The three McKenzie brothers, together with their mother, run a successful private eye business. When one of the brothers comes across a badly beaten young woman who has no memory of what happened to her or who she is, and worse yet, thanks to the trauma she’s suffered, has lost her voice, all the McKenzies unexpectedly become deeply involved in her life...not immediately...but four years later when she is acquitted of murdering her mother. If she didn’t murder her mother, then who did and why? Oh my! What an exciting way to start this novel. The judge presiding over the case takes an inexplicable interest in this young woman because of her resemblance to someone he once knew. He hires the McKenzies to search for this person and over the course of the novel, both the McKenzies, readers and the young woman, identified initially as Lyndsay Shawcross, are surprised by what they learn.

Lyndsay’s past is a lot more complicated than anyone thought, and even though some of the mysteries presented in Inside Looking Out are solved by the novel’s conclusion, author Jeanne Tompkins leaves enough questions unanswered to interest her readers in the next two books planned for the series. Great plotting and very clever planning by this talented author. But Inside Looking Out isn’t all mystery. Much of the content is also romance and, like the theme of that old TV show “Loveboat”, love is definitely in the air. It’s most enjoyable watching these romantic subplots unfold under Ms. Tompkins skilled pen. This novel is not for those wanting a quick read. It’s for those who like becoming immersed in a plot, who savor rich descriptions of settings, and who enjoy engaging and identifying with the characters’ emotions. Ms. Jeanne Tompkins makes all of that possible for her readers. So grab that glass of wine or cup of tea, sit back, relax and lose yourself in Inside Looking Out. Brava, Ms. Jeanne Tompkins!

K.C. Finn

Inside Looking Out is a work of interpersonal drama and intrigue, penned by author Jeanne Tompkins. The action begins in the nineties, where we find a young woman seeking an important document. Not long after, she wakes up in the hospital with no memory of what has happened to her, faced by Christopher McKenzie, a young police officer who has saved her from a tangle of painful thorns. Some years later, Lindsay finds herself charged with murder, and runs into Christopher again as the not guilty verdict is delivered. So begins their unusual relationship amid secrets and truths yet to be uncovered, but which may lead to greater things for them both in the future.

Author Jeanne Tompkins handles dialogue very well, which enables her to endear Chris and Lindsay to us very early on in the tale. Though the initial plot moves very quickly and with a little too much backstory, once this is all established, the central relationship of the couple and what it turns into can truly begin. Lindsay’s emotional arc is particularly fascinating as we learn the hows and whys that we so desperately want to know about her, whilst Christopher’s diligent exterior is broken down to reveal his true heart. Dramatically fascinating, this tale really encompasses the full gamut of human emotions into a pair of chance meetings that will change lives everywhere. Overall, I’d certainly recommended Inside Looking Out for fans of deep interpersonal drama and slow-burning plots with very satisfying conclusions.