Author: Steve Cavanagh
Rating: 4 Stars
Dates read: 16 Jun 19 – 18 Jun 19
Publication date: 21 May 2019
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:
1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.
After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…
*I received an eARC of this book courtesy of Orion and NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review*
Whew this book was a ride. The story certainly lives up to both the title and synopsis! It was full of twists and turns, action, crime, mystery, and was a thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end. I am going to do my best to write a spoiler free review, because this book has so many twists (as mentioned) that I don’t want to ruin them for you!
I’m going to start by praising Steve Cavanagh because I am a serial ending ruiner. I guess the end within a third of the book without trying. I don’t set out to try and work it out, it just happens, so I almost always ruin the ending for myself (books, films, TV, you name it!) and that did not happen with this story. I’m not sure what I actually thought about the ending, I think each person will have a different reaction, but I didn’t see it coming and that is a pleasant departure from the norm for me.
The loose concept behind the story is that there is an author (who I equate to James Patterson in term of literary genre and popularity) who writes under a pseudonym and is entirely unknown to the entirety of the world (except their editor). Every time someone gets close to guessing the identity of J T LeBeau, or approaches the person to out their identity, they are murdered in clinical and forensically clean fashion, often appearing as a story line/victim in a subsequent novel. This premise was great, and really fascinatingly done as you were reading the book as though it was a J T LeBeau novel and not one about the author which was pretty cool to read as well, if only novel in it’s execution.
The characters themselves were not in abundance, and while I am often all about the side characters, that was a good thing in this book. The close knit circle of protagonists and antagonists were forever moving and changing and having a small selection (I think just 5 that were really explored) made this ever shifting web of deceit and complexity that much more dynamic. For reasons that will become evident if you ever read the book, `I won’t go too much into each character for fear of spoiling the novel, but it follows a married couple entering their their year of less than wedded bliss who are facing marital challenges. The woman is having an affair with a local guy and has been for 5 months, and the guy has a secret he has been keeping from her. Alongside this we have an older policeman who is working alongside an introverted and analytical female cop who he admires immensely for her ability to work things out. The book features murder, kidnapping, blackmail, and violence, plus a whole host of other things, and occurs almost exclusively within this tight knit circle, always featuring one, some, or all of these characters. At different points in the book, I believed it was 4 of the different characters within the story, which shows just how many twists there are in the book and how many ways the reader is pulled.
The only negative I did have about the book that did knock it down a level was the convoluted nature of the plot. Yes, it twisted and turned, and yes it wasn’t an end I could guess, but I think it was due to the complicated nature of the story and the often unrealistic storyline. OK, I am not one to talk about enjoying unrealistic storylines, especially when it comes to thrillers, but elements of this didn’t sit right and impacted my overall enjoyment. The detectives, for a start, are described as being competent and throughout have an attention to detail, yet cold case murders and investigations mentioned and featured would suggest otherwise. The author/murderer is described as ruthless and has the ability to dispatch victims with ease, without a trace, but I am not sure I believe the number of deaths could be explained without a link back to them in some way. Would I have suspended belief more if the character was a spy/high level military operative, yeah, probably, because I don’t know that world at all and could believe that had been trained to have the skills needed, but the story is about ordinary people who have succeeded in normal professions and therefore creates an unbelievable dichotomy between the author and the murderer, even though they’re the same person.
I fear this review sounds more negative than positive, which wasn’t really my intention, it is just easy to write negative aspects spoiler free than the positives and bits you liked without ruining the story. I did thoroughly enjoy the book, and would still recommend it, because overall, it was a good book. I did enjoy it, it was action packed, and I had fun reading it on holiday. I do think it falls more into throwaway thriller fiction for a holiday read, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, so if that is your jam then I think you will really enjoy this book. If you do notice discrepancies or find plot twists quite jarring, it might not be the one for you. It kept me hooked in, and even though I did find it a little complicated and convoluted, it did still hold together to a plausible(ish) ending and was true to the narrative Cavanagh has constructed.