Avenue of Mysteries was all set to accompany me to the hair salon—a woman needs a good book for a hair salon. John Irving’s new novel is intriguing but the hardback is large and the story is dense, not exactly the best combination for a reader who is going to be continually interrupted. So, I grabbed Kate Moretti’s Binds That Tie with the idea of simply starting it at the salon and finishing it up after I’d reached the end of Irving’s book. The most interesting thing about intentions is that sometimes they get overruled by more pressing matters. In this case, I couldn’t sever myself from Binds That Tie. How’s that for a powerful title?
Moretti’s novel unfolds through two points of view. Maggie and Chris Stevens have been married for ten years—their blissful romance scarred by miscarriages and infidelities. When Maggie engages in, what she believes is a harmless flirtation, a deadly split-second decision forces Maggie and Chris onto a dangerous path fraught with secrets, lies, and guilt. This back cover capsulation led me to purchase the book, but the foundation for why I couldn’t turn away came from the opening lines from each POV character.
She hadn’t meant to kill him.
Not a day went by that Chris didn’t think about how he’d paralyzed a man.
These lines alone foreshadow a tale fraught with conflict and internal complexities, and Kate Moretti delivers. Binds That Tie covers a lot of unpleasant territory for readers: infidelities, murder, lies, revenge. Yet, no matter what indiscretions Maggie and Chris partake in, it’s impossible to condemn them because we empathize with the circumstances that have driven them to do what they do.
Not a Mom. Her belly was flat from not bearing children. Her skin, never stretched, was a smooth expanse of peach. Painted toenails, impeccable manicures, bikini waxes, and expensive haircuts were the things that had replaced child-rearing.
We are never out of touch with Maggie or Chris’s inner turmoil—this is where Kate Moretti shines—so by the time we get to this passage…
…Chris climbed into his truck and headed home under the same grayish pink sky he’d seen when he drove in. Is it dawn or dusk? And then he realized that the answer didn’t really matter either way.
We are intimately in tune with the desperation point they are functioning from. This base level of tension mounts as a tiny pool of characters are introduced—in particular, Chris’s best friend and lawyer Jake, who is Maggie’s ex-boyfriend and her sister Miranda’s husband. Crossover relationships are risky because they can feel forced or too convenient, but not here. Moretti’s complex intermingling of her characters works because the way in which these four people became intertwined is rooted in a natural flow of life events. The result is an emotional layer of suspense capable of competing with any thriller.
Her life had been invaded the way a gust of snowy air blew into a fire-warmed house.
This passage encapsulates the energy and chaos of this riveting novel. Binds That Tie is an examination into relationships people trust and the secret truths that destroy them. A fascinating read with an ending that shimmers and teeters on a landslide.