Lowe: Keep an eye on this psychological thriller author

  • Jul. 7, 2017 3:35 p.m.

The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan


Warren Botts is a socially awkward and unusual man pursuing his PhD in Biology who decided he needed to take a break from being in the lab. Through connections he gets a temporary job as a substitute science teacher at a middle school. It’s there he meets student Amanda Fuller, and the problems begin. Amanda keeps showing up at Botts’ home, asking for help with her science homework, or to talk about her marks, family…etc. Warren tells her he’ll help her at school but she should stay away from his house and making these inappropriate appearances. One morning, Warren notices Amanda standing by a tree in his back yard – choosing to ignore her, he goes out for a run.

Warren returns to his home to discover that Amanda has hung herself from that very tree she was standing under when he left. He knows that after he calls the police that Amanda’s “suicide” won’t sit well with law enforcement and the public, making him the prime suspect of her murder, thus turning the whole town against him.

But did Amanda really take her own life? The Substitute is told from two perspectives: that of Warren Botts, and that of a second character who remains a mystery but definitely has an impact on the story – perhaps one of Warren’s students who was behind Amanda’s death? From what we know of this second narrator is that they’re a thriving psychopath with extreme intelligence but is emotionally damaged and detached from any meaningful relationships & personal connections (with the exception to their younger sister).

As the narration progresses in the alternating chapters, it appears that the two stories are going to intersect and combine, but the truth is not revealed until the very end of the novel. This is not the typical nail-biting tense, fast-paced novel of suspense but rather a slowly emerging story of two people who have but rather a slowly emerging story of two solitary people who have more in common than either of them realize, while being so different at the same time. The tension itself comes from the treatment of Warren over Amanda’s death and the suspicions of who the mysterious narrator is and what he or she might do next.

These in-depth studies of these two characters made The Substitute hard to put down. Lundrigan’s ability to write from the point of view from a psychopath was fascinating, along with painting a portrait of how these two lived parallel lives, making it appear as if they could be the same person. Nicole Lundrigan is a new author to keep an eye for if you love a good mystery novel, or psychological thriller!

Kirsten Lowe studies at Athabasca University.

Just Posted

Influenza claims two more in Central Alberta

Since flu season began four months ago 16 have died in Central Alberta

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Supporters of Tina Fontaine’s family march in Winnipeg to support her family

WINNIPEG — Hundreds marched through the streets of Winnipeg on Friday in… Continue reading

Alberta judge cleared in case where sex assault victim was shackled and jailed

EDMONTON — An Alberta judge has been cleared of misconduct in the… Continue reading

Ottawa vows legislation allowing firms to settle corporate corruption

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is vowing to introduce legislation for corporate… Continue reading

‘Lost Tapes’ series examines Malcolm X through rare footage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Malcolm X was reviled and adored during his lifetime… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Germany ousts Canada 4-3

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of — Germany has knocked Canada out of the… Continue reading

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month