Length: 285 pages
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Nick Grant has been hunting for the burial ground of a convicted killer for ten years – for ten years, he’s searched for the bodies that could finally give closure to thirteen families. But he is far from closure when he finally finds the site. Thirteen bodies are found, but so are many more. These bodies are fresh, new, and point to a new killer who may be just as insane as the one before him.
Jamie Taylor is called in to find decade old murder victims. Her search and rescue dogs find the bodies, but they also find many more. As Nick begins to follow up on the investigation born where his decade old one finally died, Jamie has her own demons to deal with. And those demons take her right into the middle of a madman’s plan. As Jamie tries to make sense of everything that is unraveling around her, Nick tries to make peace with new found information. Their paths barely cross, and attraction masked by hostility rears its head every time they do; but they both find themselves on a path to destruction. The killer is not slowing down and his every step takes him closer to a plan that supersedes them all, one that will consume Jamie and Nick along with thousands of innocent people.
As far as books in the serial killer genre go, Red Tide has absolutely nothing new or interesting to offer. The blurb of this book promises so much, but the book fails to deliver on almost each front.
To begin with, the story is far too predictable. I’m not saying predictable as in, “I knew who the killer was from Chapter 3.” That’s a given (although the chapter number varies). It was predictable down to every detail, including the choice of the next victim. With that being the case, it was very difficult to appreciate any supposed twist or suspenseful part because, simply put, there was no suspense left at all.
Then came the weak characters. Jamie Taylor plays a central part, with most of the book written from her perspective. Rich, handsome, and troubled to the right degree FBI Agent Nick Grant got some say in there, but it was all haphazard, brooding, and a tad on the pointless end. Then there were Jamie’s sister and two friends. The four women together remain the focus of the book as Jamie spends her time with them or thinking about them or referring to them. Throw in a few more, absolutely inessential, characters, and what you get is a bunch of sub plots that only serve to increase the number of pages.
It wasn’t just the sheer number of inessential characters, but the development of each character itself that was disappointing. The characters didn’t really have much depth other than the monologue like narration that each chapter offered as back story, which were all done and done too. Added to that was the strange, often annoying, ways in which they spoke with each other and the abrupt character changes that made no sense. The dialogue was another sore point, being altogether too forced, often pointless and in some cases, down right sappy. I have no problem with sentiment. But friends having conversations that sound more like Miss World speeches is pushing sentiment a bit too far. Their attempt at logic made even less sense! The worst though had to be the fact that sentimental dialogue seemed to be missing from exactly where it was actually needed, forced instead into areas where a simple look would suffice. Even the antagonist, who got some billing, seemed confused about his own motives and thoughts. Not too uncommon for a psychopath? I agree – except that this confusion was molded to suit the outcomes rather unconvincingly. Simply put, the antagonist seemed to be bad just for the heck of it!
Last is the writing style itself. Very little of the book actually made me feel like I was reading a story on a serial killer. The inconsistency in style didn’t help either. The book goes from flowery narration to awkward dialogue, and from random statements (not even paragraphs) of violence to gushy sentiment. That is what finally led to an end that just… ended. It took a ton of things for granted, tossing information at you without bothering about connecting the dots. All in all, a rather tedious read.
The only reason I gave this book a 2 instead of a 1 or 1.5 star rating was because of its story. In its skeletal structure, the story had scope. The only problem was in its execution. Peg Brantley writes well in bursts and clearly has the imagination and potential to be good, but it may take some more effort to tap into that potential. It would take a lot of five star ratings to convince me to pick up another one of her books. All in all, Red Tide is just not worth the time and effort you would put into reading it. And if you are a fan of books based on serial killers, steer clear from Red Tide – its serial killer connection is highly superficial.