Conscience Point – Erica Abeel

Title: Conscience Point
Author: Erica Abeel
ISBN: 1932961534
Pages: 272
Release Date: October 14, 2008
Challenge: A to Z Challenge
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From the dust jacket:

Madeleine Shaye is an over-achiever with a dual career as concert pianist and TV arts-correspondent. She adores her college-age daughter, adopted as an infant under murky circumstances, and has a blissful relationship with Nick Ashcroft, scion of a mega-rich, old-money family whose lives have intertwined with hers since college. In short, she is the woman with all the luck.

Then her life unravels, and Maddy loses her footing. Her daughter announces she s leaving college to work in Guatemala, hinting darkly at mysterious trouble. And Maddy discovers that Nick has betrayed her in a way she never could have imagined. Mixing heartbreak and Gothic atmospherics with an often comical satire that casts a sardonic eye on high-fliers in New York’s artsy set, Erica Abeel has created an intimate drama of a family shadowed by the past. Set in part at Nick s crumbling family estate, Conscience Point is also a mystery that uncovers buried secrets while it plumbs the touchingly human nostalgia for the sort of youthful passion that is seldom equaled in later life.

Conscience Point captures the struggles of accomplished baby boomers scrambling to stay afloat in a post-literate age. It offers smart, enlightening descriptions of the world of music and satisfies our prurient hunger to eavesdrop on the almost-too-decadent, consequence-free lives of the super rich. But it s Maddy s tough resilience and her ability to love and sacrifice while making moral choices that remain the emotional core of this taut, clever novel.

Conscience Point is fashioned as a modern-day Gothic mystery surrounding Maddy Shaye, a former concert pianist. It’s a book that’s very easy to get lost in; Abeel’s prose is rich and detailed and she creates a vivid world within the novel. Conscience Point comes alive through Abeel’s descriptions. The details are wonderful and they really create a “gothic mystery” atmosphere for the reader.

I have to say, I had some trouble getting through the beginning of the novel – not because it was uninteresting, but because Abeel had a very unique writing style (beautiful and rich, but unique). Once I adjusted to it, the pages flew by, but the first few chapters did pass very slowly for me. I had to reread sentences (in some cases, more than once) to understand what was going on. However, I quickly adapted to this and settled into a comfortable reading rhythm.

The mystery was my favorite part of this book. It starts out slowly and subtly, and ramps up as the reader discovers more of what is going on. There are twists and turns galore, all cloaked in Abeel’s beautiful prose. I was hooked from the beginning, eager to unearth the truth behind the novel. It is incredibly well-written, providing just enough suspense to keep the reader interested but not so much that the drama seems contrived. The characters are also very appealing; Maddy is a fully-fleshed personage. She is incredibly well-developed and easy to sympathize with.

Conscience Point is Erica Abeel’s fifth book. I am eager to go back and read her other books; they are sure to be great reads, if this novel is any indication. Conscience Point is currently available in hardcover, but will be releasing on May 5 in paperback. Unbridled Books is pitching it as a great beach read for the summer, and I couldn’t agree more!

A big thank you to Libby at Unbridled Books for sending me Conscience Point to review.


  1. Sounds like a great read! I haven’t read too many mysteries — or novels containing mysteries — but I’m trying to branch into some new genres. And I love the cover, too — I totally judge books by their covers. šŸ™‚ Great review!

  2. Great review! This does sound like a good read. Sometimes I get discouraged with books that are slower off the beginning but if you can hold out a lot of the time they do turn out to be really good reads. Glad you liked this one.

  3. There are some books that are hard to get into because of the rhythm or style of the words, but once I adjust, I usually enjoy the unique writing.

  4. Aha! I was reading through your review thinking “oh, this is different. I think I’d like this …” Then I got to the end – it’s from Unbridled. of course.

    Thanks for the the tempting review.

  5. Glad to hear your enjoyed it. I’ve heard mixed reviews, and it’s made me hesitant to start reading my copy. Now I’m not so worried. Great review!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  6. I just got my catalog from Unbridled today (beautiful catalog btw!) and that was on my list of possibles to ask for….now it’s a definite!

    Great review!

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