Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: The Night Shift (By Alex Finlay)

I’d read the blurb of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay a few months ago and was immediately intrigued. I’d really enjoyed his earlier book, Every Last Fear (read its review here), so my expectations were definitely high going into this one. Read on to find out if they were met!

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

312 pages (Hardcover)

Blurb:

1999. Linden, New Jersey. Four teenage girls are attacked in the late hours of the night at the Blockbuster video store where they work. Only one survives. The suspect is quickly identified. But he manages to flee and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, another attack at an ice cream store in the same town leaves three teenage girls dead and one survivor. Both survivors recall the killer’s last words. “Goodnight, pretty girl.”

In the aftermath, four lives intersect: the survivor of the most recent attack, who is battling her own demons and the bad hand life has dealt her, the survivor of the first attack who is forced to relive her own tragedy as she gets involved in this one, the brother of the original suspect who is adamant of his brother’s innocence, and the FBI agent who is determined to solve both cases.

All four of them are after the truth. And none of them know the price they will have to pay to uncover it.

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10 stars

Plot:

10 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

10 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

10 out of 10 stars for its mystery

Writing Style:

10 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

An intriguing mystery that manages to hit hard emotionally.

What I Liked:

There was a lot to like in The Night Shift. First, its story – a good premise, handled really well. Second, its pace – moves well, doesn’t drag in spite of many arcs running in parallel, and keeps you turning the pages. Three, the mystery – you don’t see a lot of it coming and it definitely manages to surprise. Last, and definitely not least, is the emotional punch – there are aspects of the book which leave you with a heaviness in your stomach that you carry long after.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing I specifically disliked in The Night Shift. There was one character that I didn’t particularly like, but their backstory provides enough support to make their flaws seem accurate, and the character eventually grows on you.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes a good mystery or suspense will definitely like Alex Finaly’s The Night Shift.

Who Should Avoid:

Although not too gory, some parts can come across as too raw or graphic. So if that’s something you absolutely cannot digest, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

How well the many arcs come together, and the story’s emotional punch.

With The Night Shift, I have definitely developed an interest in Alex Finlay’s work and will be exploring more of it. You can buy a copy of The Night Shift here (hardcover) or here (paperback).

If you’d like to share any author or book recommendations, or tell us your thoughts on Alex Finlay and his work, please leave us a comment below. And, as always, thank you for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review.

This post contains affiliate links. The Book Review Station may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you use these links to purchase books. Thanks!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Mystery

Book Review: What July Knew (By Emily Koch)

A big thanks to NetGalley and Kate at Penguin Random House UK for an ARC of Emily Koch’s What July Knew.

I went into this mystery not too sure what to expect other than that it would probably be good. I’d previously read If I Die Before I Wake by the same author and had quite enjoyed the story and the unique perspective (check out its book review here). What I got was something quite different.

Genre:

Mystery

Blurb:

In 1995, ten-year-old July Hooper receives a summer assignment to write a report on any family member. She wants to write about her mother. Because July knows only eighteen things about her mother, memories collected over time through excerpts of conversations she’d caught. Her father never spoke about her mother, and she wasn’t allowed to ask him about her. She has a hidden list of those memories and the second one on that list is that her mother died in a car accident when she was small. Unsure of how to even begin asking her father, July almost gives up on the idea, until she receives a note.

She didn’t die in an accident.

July decides that she wants to know the truth. And if her father won’t help her, she’ll find it out herself. She begins her own search, returning to the neighborhood where she was born, and where her mother died, and asking questions to whoever she can. Until she meets someone who might have the answers she’s looking for. But can she trust this stranger’s side of the story? Is there a really good reason her family has been hiding the truth from her? And is she prepared to know the truth?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10 stars

Plot:

10 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

10 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 stars for its mystery, and 10 out of 10 stars for its unexpected emotional impact

Writing Style:

10 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Emily Koch has this amazing ability to pull you right into the world she’s created, whether she’s telling the story from the point of view of a person in a coma or a ten-year-old child. And the star of What July Knew will have you incredibly invested in her tale.

What I Liked:

A simple concept, told beautifully, What July Knew has a good mystery that keeps you turning the pages. What I really loved though was its emotional impact. The characterization is subtle yet accurate, and makes the entire scenario seem extremely real. Trigger warning: it goes into the topic of domestic violence and emotional abuse in a painfully realistic way. But that very authenticity packs the emotional punch.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing to dislike in this tale.

Who Should Read It:

If you enjoy mysteries, psychological thrillers, and stories told in a simple but genuine style, you should definitely read What July Knew.

Who Should Avoid:

The book does go into topics that some people could find traumatic. If you’re uncomfortable with stories that contain domestic violence and emotional abuse, I would recommend steering clear from this book.

Read It For:

The unique, endearing perspective of ten-year-old July, and her tenacity and strength.

Emily Koch’s What July Knew will go on sale in February 2023. Make sure to pre-order your copy in Paperback here, or get a Hardcover version here (free global shipping).

Let us know which other books you’d like us to review in the comments below!

And, as always, thanks for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review!

This post contains affiliate links. The Book Review Station may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you use these links to purchase books. Thanks!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: Before She Disappeared (By Lisa Gardner)

I’d heard a lot about Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner before I picked up this thriller. What intrigued me the most about the main character – Frankie Elkin – was her similarity to one of my favorite literary characters, David Raker.

(If you haven’t read any of his books, you should definitely try them out. Reviews of most of the books in the series by Tim Weaver are available on this website.)

Like Raker, Elkin lived for a single obsession that not many understood – searching for missing persons that the world had all but forgotten. I dove into Before She Disappeared with a lot of expectations. Read on to find out if they were met.

Genre:

Mystery, Thriller 

Length: 

400 pages

Blurb:

Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic and middle-aged woman who moves from place to place in search of persons who’ve gone missing. Once the police give up, the media forgets, and the world moves on, Elkin begins her search. One such mission brings her to Mattapan, Boston, a neighborhood with a rough reputation, and the home of missing Haitian teenager, Angelique Badeau. Elkin had expected the resistance from the local police and tight-lipped responses of those she spoke to. And neither of them manage to dampen her spirit. Elkin pushes for answers even as the danger grows and comes closer. Will Elkin find Angelique? And if she does, will she be enabling a reunion or a funeral?

Overall Rating:

2 out of 10 stars

Plot:

8 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

6 out of 10 stars for every character, 2 out of 10 for Frankie Elkin

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 stars for its mystery

Writing Style:

6 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book #1 in the Frankie Elkin series. Book 2, One Step Too Far, was released on 18 Jan 2022.

Highlighted Takeaway:

A good mystery, which is unfortunately tainted by outdated stereotyping and a blatantly superficial attempt at being socially sensitive.

What I Liked:

Before She Disappeared, at its core, has a good mystery and story. But that might be the only good thing about it.

What I Didn’t Like:

I might be one of the few who didn’t like this acclaimed novel by Lisa Gardner. But those that felt the same did so for more or less the same reason – the unnecessary and never-ending focus on Frankie Elkin being a white woman and everyone else being a person of color. Literally every person is introduced by their race, and then most are painted with outdated, typical characteristics under the label of ‘culture’.

There was a statement where Elkin called herself the ‘superior gender’; there was also some stuff where she rambled on (in her never-ending thoughts) about how, even though she was an alcoholic and had a pretty terrible life she was ‘privileged’ because she was white, while the people she was trying to help – and she focuses on cases only concerning ‘marginalized communities’ – were oppressed.

I found the whole thing to be nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on social issue trends, as determined by social media research. Not to mention, Frankie Elkin, as a character, is just not likable and comes across as someone with a pretty toxic savior complex.

Who Should/Shouldn’t Read It:

I would not recommend Before She Disappeared to anyone. If you want to read books about missing persons, you would definitely enjoy Tim Weaver’s work more. If you want to read books about strong but flawed and/or strongwomen, you could opt for Iris Johansen, Rebecca du Maurier, Mary Higgins Clark, or even Harlan Coben.

Before She Disappeared was meant to be (I think) about a person who cared about those people that the world forgot. It ends up being anything but.

I know that this review may sound incredibly harsh. But the fact remains that Gardner actually had a great story, where readers could have rooted for a flawed protagonist and felt deeply for the victims of a crime. Instead, you’re left with characters that are toxic in the name of being strong and badly stereotyped in the name of culture.

All in all, in my honest opinion, Before She Disappeared seemed like wasted potential. I genuinely tried to like this book and pushed through hoping it would get better in spite of some cringe-worthy statements. I’m really disappointed that it didn’t, and I don’t think I’m going to be reading any more of Lisa Gardner’s work.

What did you think about Before She Disappeared or Lisa Gardner’s other work? Let us know in the comments below!

And as always, thanks for stopping by and reading this book review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Stone Bruises (By Simon Beckett)

I’ve been a huge fan of Simon Beckett’s work. His David Hunter series has always been great, the setting brooding and gray – the perfect thriller setup, with a very human, easy-to-associate-with protagonist. So when I saw that he had published other standalone books, I was intrigued.

And picked up Stone Bruises. Does it meet expectations? Read on to know.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

316 pages

Blurb:

Sean is running from something. He finds himself in France, where he abandons his blood-stained car on a backroad before starting his efforts at hitch-hiking to anywhere but here. But then his foot gets caught in an animal trap leaving him delirious, ill, and almost dead near a rundown farm. When he wakes up, he realizes that he’s been taken in by two women. Their father, the owner of the farm, is livid at having a stranger on his property. But his caretakers persist and Sean begins his slow recovery on the farm. Its solitude and seclusion are welcoming, promising to take him away from his own troubles. Until he realizes that that very solitude means that no one knows what’s happening on the farm… which means that no one will ever know if he never makes it off the land. What secrets does the farm hold? What secrets do its occupants harbor? Is Sean really safe on the farm? Or is it the lesser of two evils when compared with what Sean has left behind in the outside world?

Overall Rating:

4 out of 10 stars

Plot:

6 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

7 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

2 out of 10 stars for its thrill

Writing Style:

7 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Not exactly a thriller, Simon Beckett’s Stone Bruises is more of a slow burn that has some surprises along the way.

What I Liked:

The basic story is interesting, with enough twists you don’t see coming.

What I Didn’t Like:

Stone Bruises really plods along slowly. It’s a slow-paced drama-suspense mix, with a higher percentage of the former. The characters are intriguing enough, but not so much that you feel a lot of (any) emotion when anything happens. The elements of suspense and mystery fall pretty flat – there is a lot of buildup, especially as the book shifts between past and present, but the revelations seem anticlimactic. This is also why the twists, although surprising at times, don’t hit all that hard either. Overall, it’s not a book that leaves you rooting for any character, nor against any. It’s oddly linear in its story-telling, going along at a slow pace until it just… stops.

Who Should Read It:

If you like slow burns centered around family secrets and mystery-drama, you’ll probably enjoy Stone Bruises.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’re looking for an edge-of-your-seat thriller or even something that is similar in mood and setting to Simon Beckett’s other works like the David Hunter series, you’ll probably not love this one.

Read It For:

A comfortable read that you can follow along easily enough but don’t have to be too invested in.

Although a disappointment, Stone Bruises hasn’t turned me away from Simon Beckett entirely. I still find him to be a great author, but I’d probably be sticking to his more graphic thrillers.

Share your thoughts on anything book-related in the comments below. And, as always, thanks for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Walk the Wire (By David Baldacci)

Walk the Wire is Book #6 in David Baldacci’s Amos Decker series. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews on the Amos Decker books, you already know that he’s one of my favorite literary characters – a decent person who is just trying his best against the odds he’s facing. Ever since his introduction in Memory Man, I’ve followed his story arc dedicatedly. In fact, I even completed the Will Robie and Jessica Reel series prior to reading Walk the Wire because those characters make an appearance in this one.

So did Book #6 meet expectations? Read on to find out.

Genre: 

Crime fiction

Length: 

422 pages

Blurb:

Amos Decker and his partner, Alex Jamison, are sent to London, North Dakota to solve the murder of a young woman. The victim was perfectly autopsied before being dumped in the open. Decker and Jamison have no idea why they were sent in to investigate a single local murder. But what they find is a thriving fracking town with its share of oddities. A mysterious government facility, home of a local religious sect, and a business rivalry that stretches into the past are a few of the things skewing the investigation. And things only get more complicated when Jamison and Decker learn that the victim was a schoolteacher by day, and a prostitute by night. As they persevere in their pursuit of the truth, Jamison and Decker find themselves in graver danger than ever before. Will assistance from an unexpected ally keep them safe? Or is the truth larger and more dangerous than any of them could ever imagine?

Overall Rating:

3 out of 10 stars

Plot:

3 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

4 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

3 out of 10 for its suspense and mystery, not because it didn’t have any, but because whether it did or not is made irrelevant.

Writing Style:

5 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #6 in the Amos Decker series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Walk the Wire does an excellent job (and by far the best I’ve seen) in absolutely ruining an incredible character and their story arc.

What I Liked:

It had Amos Decker, who I (still) like. But only because there are a few (very, very few) sections that do justice to the character you’ve come to appreciate.

What I Didn’t Like:

Okay… There are quite a few things here, so let’s make a list.

  1. The story is just all over the place. While multiple angles is often common in Baldacci’s work, Walk the Wire had so many things going on that it began to feel like additional angles were only added in because the main story had limited depth.
  2. The main story had limited depth. It was something that probably seemed like a good mystery at some point, but had little in the way of suspense and intrigue, leading to a weak premise and the need for so many tangents.
  3. Did David Baldacci really write this? I’ve mention in my past reviews on Baldacci’s more recent works that it’s increasingly seeming like he’s relying on ghostwriters. And the style, pace, unnecessary tangents, and weak premise of Walk the Wire make it seem like this is no different.
  4. Whoever wrote it did not know Amos Decker. The (beloved) character is anything but himself. You could literally replace him with anyone – known or unknown – and have the same result. Occasionally, whoever wrote this book seemed to remember what made Decker interesting; they then wrote some basic paragraph about him, and went back to forgetting about his capabilities.
  5. Writing style was just blah. In spite of so much going on, including a potentially intriguing murder mystery, the writing style was too blah to evoke any interest. It took some effort to keep reading.
  6. The cringe dialog. Sometimes, “cool” dialog can be fun. But if you’re going to use the same line and same situation for a character’s “cool and heroic” entry every time, it’s going to become pointless. And that’s what happens with the Reel and Robie angle.

Who Should Read It:

If you’re terribly bored and have read every other book there is, then (and only then) would I recommend reading Walk the Wire. And this holds true even if you’ve read other books in the Amos Decker series.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’ve not read the Decker series before, don’t let this one be your starting point. If you’re a big Baldacci fan, avoid this one. It might have his name, but it has nothing else of his style. And if you’re a fan of the Memory Man, avoid Walk the Wire. It adds nothing to the series and actually manages to completely ruin an amazing character.

Read It For:

Passing time that you should probably spend reading something better. Even the extended Robie and Reel cameos do nothing to save it.

I am physically upset that David Baldacci ruined Amos Decker as a character with Walk the Wire. If you’re a fan of the series, I would recommend stopping at Book #5. You won’t get anything new from the sixth instalment.

Walk the Wire also led to the end of my fandom with Baldacci. I may still finish the John Puller and Atlee Pine series, which I began a while ago, only because I want to see how their continued arcs end. But, it’ll be a while before I get to them (while praying that their characters haven’t been ruined by Baldacci).

Let me know your thoughts on David Baldacci and his works in the comments below. And as always, thank you for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: End Game (By David Baldacci)

End Game is the last (as of now) in the Will Robie and Jessica Reel series. As some of the characters are supposed to make an appearance in his other series on Amos Decker (Memory Man), I wanted to wrap this one up and not run the risk of missing anything.

The last book in the series – The Guilty – had its ups and downs, although it was more good than bad. End Game was not too different. Read on to find out what worked and didn’t work, for me, in this David Baldacci book.

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

408 pages

Blurb:

Jessica Reel and Will Robie return in End Game. But, instead of being out of the country taking down its enemies, these two government assets are sent to rural Colorado on a much more personal mission. Blue Man, their handler, superior, and friend, has gone missing when he had taken a rare fishing vacation to his hometown of Grand. When Reel and Robie arrive, they find a town with a stagnant economy, an understaffed police force, and camps recruiting people with dangerous ideologies. As they delve deeper into the mystery behind Blue Man’s disappearance, they find themselves facing an adversary who has a home and firepower advantage. Will they find Blue Man before it’s too late for themselves?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10 stars

Plot:

8 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

8 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

7 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #5 in the Will Robie series and, from what I can tell, possibly the last one.

Highlighted Takeaway:

A well-crafted tale that brings together mystery, suspense, and the results of social, political, and systemic issues.

What I Liked and Didn’t Like:

I’m combining the two sections that are usually separate in my blog posts because there were a lot of things I liked, but that at the same time could be considered out of character and strange for a David Baldacci book.

The primary one is the Reel/Robie arc. End Game picks up very differently on their relationship than where its prequel, The Guilty, ended. And their relationship remains off as the book progresses, often with irrational behavior. While I actually sort of enjoyed the personal angle, I did find it odd – it simply seemed to be an ‘extra’ to keep readers vested in the characters… something that was just not the norm with Baldacci. And I’m still not sure if it was needed. You could have taken that whole angle out and the book would have not really been much different. Consequently, the other personal/relationship angles that the story went into seemed a bit forced.

The mystery and suspense were good, with a lot of arcs that offered surprises. But, a lot of it was also unrealistic. At this point, Robie and Reel seem more superhuman than skilled (and uncharacteristically boastful too). Their character arcs seem to now be driven by someone who’s crushing on how cool they are. Which is off-brand for them. So there’s that contradiction, which is enjoyable (I mean, cheesy dialog has its moments) but not the norm for these characters.

The tale reads well (better than The Guilty), while still seeming to be written by not-Baldacci. Overall, a good story with a satisfactory (sort-of) end to the Robie/Reel books.

Who Should Read It:

If you’ve been reading the Will Robie series, I’d definitely recommend reading End Game and seeing it through. Also, if you like political mysteries and thrillers in general, the series is a good one (just probably not the best ever).

Who Should Avoid:

If you’ve not read any of the previous books in the series, I’d recommend passing on this one. It will work as a standalone, but you’ll miss out on a lot of the early character development, and that will take a lot out of the story.

Read It For:

The conclusion (again, assuming this is the last one) of the Robie and Reel series. Both are likable characters, even if often unrealistic.

You can get your copy of End Game by David Baldacci in paperback here, and in hardcover here.

Got something to share about David Baldacci’s books or other thrillers/mysteries? Drop us a comment below. And as always, thanks for stopping by The Book Review Station!

This post contains affiliate links. The Book Review Station may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you use these links to purchase books. Thanks!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: No One Home (By Tim Weaver)

This post contains affiliate links. The Book Review Station may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you use these links to purchase books.

Published in 2019, No One Home is one of the most recent books in the David Raker series. The next full-length novel in the series, The Blackbird, comes out mid-2022. (You can pre-order that one here.) Between these two, Tim Weaver published one standalone thriller – Missing Pieces – and one collection of short stories featuring David Raker – The Shadow at the Door.

The reason I bring all of this up is that when I realized I was almost completely caught up and would now have to wait months and years for the next installment in the series, I was both happy and sad. But if you haven’t read any of Tim Weaver’s books yet, or if you’ve just read a few here and there, I would really recommend reading the entire series, and starting from the first one. The David Raker series remains one that meets the bar almost every time.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

400 pages

Blurb:

The village of Black Gale has four homes and nine residents. On Halloween night, they meet at one of the houses for dinner. Photos of the night show them happy – drinks and smiles all around. Then, none of them are ever seen again. Two and a half years later, the police still have no clue about what happened to the entire village, and the media focus has died down. So the families of the missing people turn to David Raker. And Raker makes their obsession his own. With every case, David Raker has been moving closer to his own destruction. He knows this truth. He accepts it. But nothing could have prepared him for the mystery of Black Gale.

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10 stars

Plot:

10 out of 10 stars

Characterization:

10 out of 10 stars

Primary Element:

10 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

10 out of 10 stars

Part of a Series: 

Yep, this is Book #10 in the David Raker series. I wouldn’t really recommend reading it as a standalone. After around Book #5, they’ve become more and more connected, and you’re likely to have spoilers for the prequels if you read them out of order.

Highlighted Takeaway:

An unconventional mystery, supported by numerous characters that are all shades of gray, and enhanced through its perfect setting.

What I Liked:

No One Home has two stories running simultaneously, far apart in setting and time. Both are interesting, and both have their own protagonists. This dual approach is incredibly engaging.

Then there is also the fact that, as with previous works, David Raker’s character grows more and more with every successive novel. And #10 in the series has some of the most interesting character development yet. Never before has the series had you so concerned.

What I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t really find much to dislike. Quite a few twists and turns that keep you guessing right up until the end.

Who Should Read It:

If you’ve read and enjoyed even one of the David Raker books, I’d recommend giving the entire series a read. And if you haven’t read anything by Tim Weaver as yet but enjoy thrillers, mysteries, and crime fiction, especially those with gritty settings, then I’d highly recommend this series.

Who Should Avoid:

If you don’t enjoy crime fiction that focuses on cold cases or that can become a bit dark, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

Some shocking developments in David Raker’s story arc, and interesting ones in those of other favorite characters.

Unsurprisingly, I actually ended up reading The Shadow at the Door, which is set after the events of No One Home. Its review will be up soon but before that will be the review of Simone St. James’ most recent book. You might have heard of this one if you like the crime and thriller genres, especially true crime. Stay tuned!

Got something to share about Tim Weaver, David Raker, or other books? Or just want to say hi? Drop a comment below!

And as always, thank you for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review.

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: You Were Gone (By Tim Weaver)

If you’ve been reading the last few reviews on this site, you would’ve noticed that Tim Weaver’s name and books have popped up quite often. I’d read a couple of his books a while ago and sort of re-discovered him more recently. And since then, his series has been getting more and more interesting. Which is why his books have become a ‘comfort read’ for me. I know that they’ll move fast and be interesting, but most of all, I love seeing the development of David Raker (the leading character).

There is, of course, always the question, “What if this isn’t as good as the previous ones?” But for the most part, Tim Weaver’s David Raker series has been consistently good.

Now that that explanation for why I’ve been devouring the David Raker series is out of the way, let’s come to You Were Gone – the ninth book in the series. Was this the book that broke the streak of ‘consistently good’? Read on to find out.

Genre: 

Thriller

Length: 

483 pages

Blurb:

When David Raker had to watch his wife slowly be consumed by the cancer that eventually took her life, he felt a part of him die too. He coped by choosing to become a missing persons investigator and helping others find closure. His work soon became an obsession, one that had repercussions on his health, and his doctor warned him that it could push him over the edge.

But years after Raker buries his wife, a woman walks into a police station, and tells them she’s been missing for eight years. She has no ID, no phone – only the name of her husband – David Raker. When Raker is called in by the DI, he finds himself looking at the woman who looks exactly like his dead wife and who knows intimate details of their marriage. She claims that Raker had a breakdown, that she had never died. And Raker is forced to question whether he knows his own truth at all. Did Derryn really die? Or is everything he knows… and lived… a lie created by his own fragile sanity?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its thrill, 10 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

10 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yep, this is Book #9 in the David Raker series. While I have read reviews on Goodreads that say readers enjoyed this as a standalone, they did state that it took a couple chapters to get into it because of not having read the previous books. I’d definitely recommend starting from the first book, but if you’re just looking for an interesting read, this would work as a standalone too. You can find reviews of the previous book on this site too.

Highlighted Takeaway:

You Were Gone will make you question everything you believe about David Raker, leaving you in the same conundrum as the main character, and wondering if you’ve trusted the wrong (fictional) person all these years.

What I Liked:

Raker’s vulnerability and fragility, mentally and emotionally, is depicted really well, making it really easy to associate with him. At the same time, you find yourself questioning what you’ve known so far while also wondering about the truth. The mystery unfolds well, keeping the suspense going even as things get resolved along the way. Overall, the book moves fast, hits hard (emotionally), and keeps you turning the pages late into the night.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing I can point out as having disliked. Like its preceding books, You Were Gone was an incredibly interesting and absorbing read.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who loves thrillers and mysteries will like Tim Weaver’s work, including You Were Gone and its prequels. The David Raker series remains one of my favorites, book after book.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’re not a fan of mysteries, cold case books, or thrillers, or hate picking up books mid-series, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

The most personal case David Raker has ever found himself in.

As you may have realized by now, I’m definitely going to be finishing the David Raker series soon, finally catching up to the latest releases. I’ve got The Shadow at my Door bought and ready, but will buy and read No One Home prior to starting that (as I would like to go through this series in order).

In the meanwhile, I’m reading other authors (of course!). So stay tuned for more reviews coming up very soon. And as always, thanks for stopping by and checking out the posts on The Book Review Station!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: The Chase (By Candice Fox)

A big thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of The Chase by Candice Fox. The blurb of the book was really interesting and I got into it as soon as I received the book. So, without further ado, let’s get into what it’s about, what works, what doesn’t, and why you should (or shouldn’t) read this book.

Genre: 

Mystery/Thriller

Length:

432 pages 

Blurb:

John Kradle is on death row for the murder of his wife, son, and sister-in-law. The Supervisor in charge of the row, Celine Osbourne, has always had a special hatred for him. And when a hostage situation leads to all 600 of the Pronghorn Correctional Facility inmates going free, Celine is determined to capture Kradle on priority. But Kradle is determined to stay one step ahead – because this is his last and only chance to prove his innocence. While other departments swoop in to help with one of the biggest manhunts in US history and chase down some of the most dangerous criminals ever captured, Celine and Kradle become entrenched in a game of cat-and-mouse. Is Kradle really innocent? Will Celine’s past keep her from seeing the truth, whatever that may be? And how many innocents will die before the manhunt comes to a successful end?

Overall Rating:

6.5 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10

Characterization:

5 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its mystery; 7 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No. Although, it could become the first of a series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Candice Fox weaves an engaging tale of how personal demons and traumas can both make and break people, influencing everything big and small that they do.

What I Liked:

The main story – that of John Kradle, Celine Osbourne, and their interactions – was the most interesting part of The Chase. While the rest of the book covered the other criminals’ storylines, with a large part of the book focusing on non-Kradle stuff, the main pitch remained the strongest.

What I Didn’t Like:

While the characterization of Osbourne and Kradle was good (with Kradle’s being better), I found the rest of the characters to be very limited. Plus, some of the characters were incredibly unlikeable and, in my opinion, probably more so than intended. There were so many story arcs that the book couldn’t really get into too much detail of anyone, but at the same time tried to share a lot of information. The end result was that the story seemed very choppy in quite a few places, being more ‘telling’ than ‘showing’.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes manhunt-style stories will definitely enjoy The Chase. You’ll probably also like it if you like the ‘justice seeking vigilante’ stories. I read The Chase without too many breaks – it moved along briskly, kept me engaged, and definitely kept me wanting to discover the truth. In spite of the few issues it had, it was an interesting read and I’d definitely read more from Candice Fox.

Who Should Avoid:

If you don’t like stories that have numerous arcs, multiple storylines, and a few unstable characters, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

Read It For:

A fast-moving, easy-to-read page-turner that is perfect as a travel-time read or to curl up with while the storm rages on outside.

Got any book recommendations for new or old thrillers that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below. And, as always, thank you for taking the time to stop by the Book Review Station and read my review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: Origin (By Dan Brown)

Dan Brown’s Origin seems to leave readers harshly divided. You either hate it or love it. That happens to be true for most of his books, though. I had really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. I remember his other books being alright. They had some good parts and some pretty ridiculous ones.

Origin, though, was a different kind of ‘alright’. And in the interest of sharing all my thoughts (which, I admit, are a bit all over the place), I’m making this review a little different. Read on to know more!

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

456 pages

Blurb:

Futurist, billionaire, and Robert Langdon’s old student, Edmond Kirsch, is hosting a major announcement at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Langdon and a closely vetted list of exclusive guests have been invited to the event that little is known about but that has promised to “change the world of science and religion forever”. Kirsch’s announcement aims to answer two of human existence’s fundamental questions. But the presentation turns out to be much more controversial than expected, threatening the very foundation of all religion. But Kirsch is assassinated in the moments before his big announcement. As chaos erupts, Langdon finds himself forced to escape Bilbao. With him is the beautiful Ambra Vidal – fiancée of the Crown Prince of Spain and Director of the museum who helped Kirsch put the presentation together. They both attempt to uncover and release Kirsch’s mysterious discovery before it is lost forever. But the man who assassinated Kirsch will stop at nothing to keep the announcement unaired. And that is not the only obstacle in Langdon and Vidal’s way as they traverse the world of enigmatic symbols and modern art… all in an attempt to avenge their dead friend and ensure that his discovery is made public.

Overall Rating:

3 out of 10

The Review:

Let’s jump right into it!

Dan Brown’s Origin is okay at best. It’s really, really slow throughout. Sure there’s some action going on. But the entire premise is how Kirsch would answer two crucial questions:

  • Where did we come from?
  • Where are we going?

Except, because of how often these questions are posed in an attempt to generate excitement in the reader… you simply end up not caring.

I mean, by the time I was a few chapters in, my feelings could be summarized as, “Interesting premise. Too bad I don’t give too much of a damn about finding the answers.”

But!

It does just enough to keep you sort of interested to see it to the end. Which is also a bit of a letdown after all that hype. The book definitely has action – murders, conspiracy, and suspense. But its pace just doesn’t allow you to really get into it. The story itself is okay, with different arcs running in parallel as they often do in dan Brown’s work. It attempts to build a lot of hype as it heads to its climax, only to fall pretty flat. If you’re a big Robert Langdon fan, you might enjoy Origin. Although, if you love the art that the Langdon books focus on, you might want to skip this one, which is based more on modern art.

I’m definitely disappointed at how this turned out, even though I hadn’t gotten into it with high expectations in the first place. It was the first book I picked up in 2022 and was a slow start to the year for sure. But I’ve got other books lined up (and read) so more reviews are definitely coming up soon.

Share your thoughts on Dan Brown, his books, and his characters in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by The Book Review Station and reading this review!

– Rishika