03 September 2014

Empathy by Ker Dukey

Empathy Jacket Cover

I am a brother
I am a police detective
I am a contract killer
I don’t want to love
I don’t want to feel
I don’t want … EMPATHY.

They say some people are born with decreased activity in the front central lobe causing them a deficiency in empathy. Maybe that’s true about me but whether I was born this way or created in a moment of evil, empathy was something I didn’t possess until her green eyes met mine in the mirror and I couldn’t take her life.
I didn’t want to feel, didn’t want this woman in my life complicating how I lived but she was there at every turn. Sent to haunt me for my sins. Her light so bright she provoked a shadow from everyone she touched. When a job turns bad quickly altering my life forever I’m forced to feel. When nothing is making sense I’m forced to face truths I never would recover from. When life drowns you in its cruelty you don’t know which way the current will drag you or who you’ll become once you re-surface.


I was a daughter
I was a student
I was a victim
Did I have his love?
Did I make him feel?
Did I have his empathy?
When the actions of a soulless killer forces sorrow into my veins I never dreamed the man healing my wounds would be the one to leave the worst scar. His love would scar my soul. Scars are permanent; I will never feel the relief from them. Will I learn to live with them, remember why I have them and learn never to let him close enough to inflict more? Will I eventually cover them… like tattoos coating them with new memories, new love and new starts? I didn’t know these answers because the pain was too suffocating, the only thing I knew was they will always be under the surface lingering. He had scars too, from his sins. There is nothing that can cover them, they were too deep, too ugly, too dark and they marked us both forever.

I wasn’t quite sure where this book was going to take me with the title and the first few pages, but my wondering mind had to find out.  I am so glad I went with that instinct because this book has moved to the tops of my lists in great twisted books.
Melody grew up with a step brother and her mom and dad.  It was clear that her parents union and her birth weren’t exactly seen as something good.  In college now she is focusing on her studies and Ryan, the guy she sits next to who won’t even look her in the face.  She gets a request to come home immediately, her parents need to have a family meeting so she leaves class early to make it back home.  When she walks in the door, her life will change forever at what she sees.  She thinks she is alone in the house, crying for her mom and dad, but she is being watched by Blake and her future doesn’t look to great.
Blake is a cop during the day and a hired killer during the night.  He sees Melody shattered over her discovery and knows that her step brother had contacted him to do that job, but for someone who doesn’t feel anything, he is struck at how her eyes and sorrow are opening up his heart.  He lost his human emotions a long time ago when he saw what his step father was doing to his little brother Ryan.  Being able to get rid of that problem then shut down his heart and cleared the way for him to go day to day doing what he needed to do without having to feel empathy.  He has spent his life taking care of Ryan, trying to give him a life that is safe and get him a college education.  He hides a lot from his little brother to protect him, but how much longer is he going to be able to keep things hidden?
Ryan is an introvert who loves pain.  He doesn’t care when the bullies at college break his arm or beat him up, he thrives with that pain.  He knows Melody has an interest in him and maybe he feels something for her so he agrees to do a class project with her but she doesn’t return in time to do it.  When she finally returns they build a friendship, one that she counts on during her healing and he is determined to get even with the guy who wants Melody.  Little does he know that Melody and Blake have already had a run in and even though it was a bumpy beginning, they are finding love with each other? 
This book takes you on so many paths; I haven’t even begun to tell you about the plot in this story.  You will find out that just when you think you have things figured out and a happy ending will occur the author shakes up their reality and leaves the reader gasping for air.  In the end we find there is a killer, a psychopath, victims, liars, betrayers and heartbreak, but the journey to find out who that is will shock you, capture your heart and mess with your mind.  The author left the ending in a way that could be considered a cliff hanger or a ledge you just fall off of.  I need more of these characters, I need to know what happens to Blake, Melody and Ryan and even the secondary characters that came into the story.  If you love books that are dark and twisted and leave you still thinking about the story for days after you finished it then this is your book.  I HIGHLY recommend Empathy and I will certainly be seeking more of this authors work.   

My hats off to you Ms. Dukey. I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a dark read. The blurb clearly states that Blake is a contract killer who didn’t feel empathy. As such, I pretty much knew we were dealing with a sociopath – yes, that master’s degree in psychology does have its uses. What I did not expect was the mind-bending trip down the rabbit hole that is Empathy. The twists and turns that the author introduces throughout the story make for one intense psychological thriller.

If you read the blurb, then you’ve likely surmised that Blake’s “profession” and Melody’s “tragedy” are entwined (and if you think that’s a spoiler, trust me when I tell you I have not ruined the book for you). The author does an excellent job of setting the stage, so to speak, for Blake’s sociopathic tendencies. When Melody makes first contact with Ryan (her classmate and Blake’s brother), it’s clear from the way that she describes his eyes that he didn’t survive that fateful night unscathed either. They take comfort in one another’s presence and their friendship develops. Once Melody learns that Blake and Ryan are brothers, I felt like I could hear her internal groan as she dealt with the knowledge that her best friend was the sibling of a man she hated interacting with. As events unfold, Blake finds himself unable to resist the pull he feels for Melody and when he finally gives in, well the sex is aggressively hot.

While a work of fiction, Empathy is a study of human behavior. The author seems eager to explore the nature vs. environment debate regarding sociopaths – are they born or are they made? I suspect this is just one of the reasons why this book appealed to me so much. That it is also the story of Blake’s redemption and I was constantly left wondering whether or not he would allow his love for Melody and hers for him to redeem him completely appealed to the romantic in me. And that I never saw IT coming, all I can say is well done Ms. Dukey. You’ve just made another fan.
Ker DukeyI have always had a passion for storytelling, whether it be through lyrics or bed time stories with my sisters. I wanted to be an actress growing up so I could live many roles but I learned early on that my mind was too active... I would want to change the script.I would watch films and think of ways they could of improved the story if they took another direction so i thought it best that i tell my own. My mum would always have a book in her hand when I was young and passed on her love for reading, inspiring me to venture into writing my own. I tend to have a darker edge to my writing. Not all love stories are made from light, some are created in darkness but are just as powerful and worth telling. When I'm not lost in the world of characters I love spending time with my family. I'm a mum and that comes first in my life but when I do get down time I love attending music concerts or reading events with my younger sister. You can find me on facebook where i love interacting with my readers.
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