This is not really my normal genre, the whole crime thriller thing (even though between this one and my Agatha Christie post last week, it might be hard to tell recently…). In any case, I once again must thank book club for taking me a little outside my comfort zone. And even though I can continue to say that I don’t think I’ll suddenly convert to a crime thriller lover, this book was really hard to put down. And since I was in the midst of a mini reading slump, a quick, enthralling read was really what I needed.
As a quick plot synopsis: a 5-year-old boy is killed in a hit and run accident. The police have few leads, the mother disappears in her grief, and the guilty party is managing to evade the law. As the story unfolds, we see a lot of different smaller pieces starting to come together, including how the past Jenna Gray (our protagonist) is running from plays into the unfolding drama/tragedy. There is really very little else I can say without giving away any of the important twists (and that just wouldn’t be fair to you!).
I feel like reviewing thrillers like this is a little hard, especially when any small thing could potentially give away a clue or plot point that will help the reader figure out the ending before they get to it. And I sure don’t want to be the person that does that (I hate those people, haha). So I’ll do my best. First, this was a page turner for real – I finished in two sittings and really had trouble putting it down. The plot development and unfolding is very well crafted and the pacing was generally spot on, though there were a few sections I definitely skimmed through to get onto the next part. (Mainly, these were the “home life” sections of the main investigator on the case…I felt like it was great to add a little dimension to him, but the author added a little too much there. There were issues with both his wife and his son and, though I realize that’s life, the stuff with his son just seemed totally tangential to the story and didn’t really add anything other than more pages to get through.) Other than that, the relationships developed between all the characters, both on the investigative team and in Jenna’s attempts to escape/start over, are realistic. Some are much cuter than others, some perhaps made me kind of angry, but they all came across very genuine. The writing itself was clear and easy, which is great for this type of novel: it’s not anything flowery and beautiful that would be out of place, but it is good, solid writing. Like any book where the language isn’t the focal point, if it’s poorly done it could still ruin it.
As far as the big twists mentioned in most of the reviews, I felt like there were three. The first one was about halfway in and actually totally confused for me. The mislead by the author was done almost too well and I really thought I had just missed something and had been reading the whole thing really, really wrong. So kudos there, I think? Haha. Once I figured it out and got back into the flow though, it was totally fine. As for the second, it came much closer to the end and was definitely one I saw coming from a mile away. To be fair, this particular “twist” (or more appropriately, reveal) may not have actually been meant as one for us as readers, but it definitely came as one to the investigators (so I’m counting it). But even though I saw it coming, reading about the lead up, and the building dread, was nicely done by the author. And the last one…it came out of left field! I completely didn’t see it coming. At the same time, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I mean it is shocking (always the ending one wants with a thriller) and does a great job giving Jenna the kick she needs to finally “make her move” (that’s me being ambiguous…I’m trying). So from that perspective it’s good. But how likely is it actually? I mean…how realistic is it? I’m not sure…if you’ve read this, I would LOVE your opinion! And speaking of realistic endings/how we feel about endings, I have similarly confused feelings about the “justice” at the end. It’s super definitive (and I’m all for karma, the parallels/connections it creates with other characters’ stories, and the pro “inner strength emerging” feel), but is it right? I can’t tell. Bottom line though, I don’t hate it and don’t feel unsatisfied.
*I feel that it’s incredibly worth mentioning that this book should to come with some serious trigger warnings, because it’s totally not anticipatable based on the inside cover blurb. It was, at times, super difficult to read, and it is not even something I directly have experience with. I’ll leave this vague too, just in case, but if you are thinking about reading this and want more info to make sure it’ll be ok before you try it, please let me know and I can give you more details.
Apart from the all the horrible situations in this book, I felt like the author did a great job leaving us with a sort of mixed conclusion – the wrap-up of the crime itself and then the open-ended, mostly hopeful ending for the majority of our protagonists. It’s the sort of ending that one always wants in real life, but doesn’t always get. As I mentioned, I don’t have a lot of experience in this genre, but I would say that if you are looking for an entertaining, well written, page-turning, crime thriller…this is definitely worth checking out.