Fast paced from the start, Macfarlane places the reader in the middle of the action from page one. Setting the scene for what is to come, the plot begins loaded with intensity. Identifying the protagonists as individuals with highly contrasting personalities, Macfarlane effortlessly juxtaposes the sensitivity of the genuine human nature of Vic and Claire, with Ichi’s seemingly inexplicable brutality and unadulterated psychopathy. As the plot develops, we see the relationship between these three individuals twist and complicate under the strain of circumstance. This results in questions about the nature of human psychology which are delicately explored and keep the reader guessing about what comes next for these characters.
By playing with emotions in this way the reader is kept on their toes, as the cycle of emotive thought shifts from predictably normal to unthinkably dark in the turn of a page. Thereby Macfarlane establishes an atmospheric read as thoughts and fears are transferred from the page onto the reader. In this thrilling brain teaser Hayley Macfarlane highlights the ruthlessness and lack of humanity seen by many, playing upon the fragile line linking reality and fiction to keep her readers on edge, perpetually guessing at the real power of others. The final chapter leaves the door open for a sequel: it would appear Macfarlane is not yet finished with exploring her complex love triangle. The novel was a real page turner: I could not put down Careless Assassin.