FeaturedPsychological Thriller

All Junkies Float

By

Must read 🏆

Addiction, recovery, rinse, & repeat is a winning formula that Clarke Wainikka executed masterfully in this dynamic psychological thriller!

Synopsis

It’s tough to balance an addiction to Xanax when you’re a psychologist at a rehabilitation centre. It’s especially tough when your patients are killing themselves. When Joseph Mackay is found dead in his bathtub, Annette Baker is thrust into the middle of the unraveling mysteries of Medicine River Rehab Centre. So Annette does what any recovering heroin addict would do in a stressful situation, pop back a few Xanax to deal with the anxiety and a few more when she discovers that Joseph is one of three suicides at the centre in the last three years.

Annette must face the conflict of protecting her job or protecting her patients, all while dealing with a small-town journalist desperate for a story, a boss who would do anything to preserve her reputation, and a persistent detective sorting out the mysterious suicides one by one. Not to mention her addiction to prescription pills and the animosity from her troubled past that she must confront in order to sort out the puzzling, sobering secrecy at Medicine River.

Addiction, recovery, rinse, and repeat, “All Junkie Float” has locked onto a winning formula, and author Clarke Wainikka executed this psychological thriller masterfully! From the moment you read the prologue, it is clear that the author has an innate ability to mimic the effects of addiction because it is difficult to put the book down until you reach the final chapter. Here are the reasons for a 5-star review:


Plot- The story revolves around issues plaguing the Medicine River Rehabilitation Centre. Over the past three years, someone has been keeping a watchful eye over the patients and staff. With every passing year someones dubious deception creeps deeper into the walls that are designed to be a refuge for those who need it most, including the staff. What starts off as a simple case of suicide, ends up becoming a troubling case of neglect that nobody could have predicted.


Character Development- The main characters are given a full rounded backstory that seamlessly interwove into the story. The author was able to write a single sentence that encapsulated the Characters without dredging on about insignificant details. For example, the following sentence subtly describes a Character by the name of Gabby while also establishing the relationship both she and her therapist, have developed:


She [Annette] could generally predict when Gabby was about to have a panic attack, the tell-tale textbook symptoms always presented themselves with her." (pg 20)


These are real-world people of various ethnicity, body shape, and education level, not caricatures. Out of the entire cast, there was only one character who I found to be disappointingly underdeveloped.

 

Best audience- Fans of other page-turners by authors like Chelsea Cain, Mary Higgins-Clark, and Jennifer Hillier will enjoy the pace of this novel. And readers of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn, who value character development for the psychologically flawed, will want to add this to their “to-read” list.


 Strengths 

The use of both first-person and third-person omniscient narrative was smart and made sense at every turn. I applaud her use of flashbacks and natural dialogue. This novel was mindful of its ability to build suspense through exposition that does not slap you in the face. Strong descriptions made good use of all five senses.  

Weakness 

Towards the end, there were a couple of chapters that were difficult to follow. The action felt clumsy as I struggled to visualize what was happening. I found that I had to pause often and reread paragraphs.

 

Overall- This novel was a satisfying psychological-thriller!  Easy to read, “All Junkie Float” keeps you engaged from start to finish. Though this is the Wainikka’s second novel, it read like a bestseller from a seasoned mystery writer. The characters were well-rounded and developed, the flow had a nice balance of twists, the tone was consistent, and the end was rewarding. Just when you think you have it all figured out, like a drug, “All Junkies Float” takes ahold of you and knocks you back down. I’m excited to have been one of the first to read Wainikka’s novel, and I look forward to many more! 


 


Reviewed by

I believe writers are the last bastions of humanity & have a responsibility to craft thoughtful narratives. For 20 years, my world has revolved around literature: selling, teaching, and writing. I am driven by books that inspire my creative endeavors. Reviews posted will be succinct and thoughtful.

Synopsis

It’s tough to balance an addiction to Xanax when you’re a psychologist at a rehabilitation centre. It’s especially tough when your patients are killing themselves. When Joseph Mackay is found dead in his bathtub, Annette Baker is thrust into the middle of the unraveling mysteries of Medicine River Rehab Centre. So Annette does what any recovering heroin addict would do in a stressful situation, pop back a few Xanax to deal with the anxiety and a few more when she discovers that Joseph is one of three suicides at the centre in the last three years.

Annette must face the conflict of protecting her job or protecting her patients, all while dealing with a small-town journalist desperate for a story, a boss who would do anything to preserve her reputation, and a persistent detective sorting out the mysterious suicides one by one. Not to mention her addiction to prescription pills and the animosity from her troubled past that she must confront in order to sort out the puzzling, sobering secrecy at Medicine River.

Prologue



Yesterday, he relapsed. Today, the hangover was pulsing in his head and fingers. Three empty bottles of vodka were scattered around the room; each one a shiny, nauseating reminder of his choices. He was shaking, adrenaline running up and down his arms. Four months. He had been sober for four months. He had ruined everything.

The gun sat in front of him. Matte black, cool metal. He rested two fingers on the grip and breathed in through his nose. He shook his head and retreated his hand. Really, it made sense. There was no other option but he couldn't bring himself to pick up the gun.

"Are you ready?"

The voice said from behind him.

He shook his head again. Tears stung the sides of his eyes. He had relapsed; did that mean he had to die? Did that mean he was useless? He knew that the voice behind him would answer both of those questions with 'yes.'

He took out a flask from inside his jacket. With each tremendous sip, the whisky burned his throat. It singed his esophagus and rested in the unsettled cavity of his stomach, swirling together with the remnants of yesterday’s binge.

"I can't," he whispered.

An exasperated sigh behind him; annoyed with his change of heart. He clutched his hands between his knees, wound his fingers together and stood up from the couch. He teetered in front of the fake stone coffee table, the one he had hated when he’d moved in because it was the same as everyone else’s in Building B. Tacky, safe, stay-at-home-mom style furniture. The haziness of the apartment was beginning to clear out, the memories of the space pulling at his chest. This is where he had gotten clean. He had spent days fighting back nausea and tears bent over the tacky table in front of him.

"I can't do it."

He turned to face the voice behind him. But before he could make a full turn, he was grabbed from behind and slammed into the coffee table. The apartment spun back into a swirl of hangovers and reminiscent smog.

He half-awoke, squeaking against the ceramic of his bathtub. He was naked. A pair of silicone gloves heaved his body, adjusting him over the edge of the tub. His arms sprawled in front of him, his feet twisted and one of his toes landed in the drain. He tried to resist but no strength would come to him. The whisky and the vodka ensured that he was completely empty.

"All right."

A readying whisper.

The gun clicked.

The safety was off.

He had made mistakes. He had made the wrong choices again and again. And the one moment where he had made the right choice, it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. He knew he would end up here. Drowned by his weakness, unable to lift his head to face his killer.

The gun was wrapped into his hands. His finger, placed on the trigger. A small adjustment was made to the placement of his shoulder. His eyes opened for a brief second. The barrel stared at him, perfectly placed to pierce through his skull. Adrenaline rushed through him but it was quickly overshadowed by the exhaustion and the whisky. He could have fought back, but he didn't. He could have screamed and kicked. He could have saved himself but he wasn't worth it. He was nothing. Nothing to anyone.

The hand opened his mouth, pulling his face up by his nose. The barrel pressed against the roof of his mouth. His teeth scraped against the metal, filling his mouth with the taste of iron like he had swallowed blood. The gloves pressed his finger into the trigger and fired.

About the author

Winnipeg-based author Clarke Wainikka is the creator of compelling dark fiction thrillers and mysteries such as The Resemblance and All Junkies Float. Her captivating writing style was fortified through many years of teaching English and assisting ESL students with writing challenges. view profile

Published on June 01, 2020

Published by

80000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Reviewed by

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