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Bridging the Gap: Far From True

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Last August, when I read Linwood Barclay’s Broken Promise, I nearly threw the book across the lawn at my in-laws’ when the end of the book provided zero resolution.

Six long months later, the sequel (in a planned trilogy) Far From True, arrived at the door and it was all I could do to continue reading the book I was in the middle of instead of jumping right back into life in Promise Falls.

There’s no real way to write about this without some spoilers. But if you haven’t read the first book, none of this will mean anything anyway so I think it’s safe to keep going.

true

When we left Promise Falls, the murder of Rosemary Gaynor was still unsolved and the police were looking at similarities between her murder and that of a young woman killed three years earlier, the number 23 was showing up in ways that could no longer just be coincidental, and the head of security at Thackeray College was all kinds of shady.

None of that was resolved in Far From True.

But more mystery and intrigue was added. The local drive-in theatre is closing and hosting one last movie night. The town turns out and just as the movie is about to start, there’s an explosion and the screen comes down, killing four. That leads to the discovery of a Christian Grey style playroom at one of the deceased’s homes, which may include the possibility of videos of certain citizens in compromising positions. There’s also a missing wife of a professor at the college and the attempted abduction of the kid of the woman David Harwood, the reporter from the last book, is seeing.

None of this was resolved either.

If you haven’t read Broken Promise, you can’t read Far From True. Nothing would make sense. This is the kind of series that can’t stand on its own book by book, the kind of series that would be so much better to read back to back. I wish that the third book was out already because I would love some resolution!

That said, this was an excellent bridge book. That is, it bridges the gap between things that I wanted to know from the first book and clearly laid a lot of groundwork for whatever is coming in the final book. If anything, reading Far From True has made me more eager for the finale. There was a lot going on in Broken Promise and I didn’t think that Barclay could cram anymore in. This isn’t a thriller about one person or family or department; this is a series that is actually about an entire town. A seriously messed up town with a lot of corruption, people bent on revenge and strange happenings, but an entire town nonetheless.

So now we wait for several months to find out how this all unravels. The Twenty Three is expected in November. For those of us that don’t want to wait, there’s a novella that’s being billed as book 1.5 – Final Assignment.

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Flat Crime Fiction: Broken Harbour

A few years ago, I did not read crime fiction.

Hard to believe now, isn’t it? I don’t even remember what triggered my love for the genre a few years ago but now I can’t get enough.

I read the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Scots.  I have a newfound love for Linwood Barclay and continue my love affair with Agatha Christie. Taking a stab at the Irish, I recently read Tana French for the first time and found that The Secret Place was well worth the 452 pages it took to get to a resolution. I was definitely game to read more of her work.

I thought Broken Harbour was the first of the “Dublin Murder Squad” books. It is not – it’s the 4th. Why can I never seem to get the right book in the right order? Why is this so hard?

It seems like they all work as standalones, so it’s not actually that big of a deal.

Detective Mike Kennedy is being given another stab at a high profile case: a family found dead in a house about an hour outside of Dublin, in what is now called Brianstown. He takes his brand new partner, Richie Curran, with him to show him how working a high profile murder investigation goes. When they get to the house, they see that the whole development is a dump – the victims’ house is one of the few finished houses in a sea of half built, abandoned house shells. Kennedy himself feels very uneasy about being back in Brianstown – it had been called Broken Harbour when he used to spend two weeks of the summer there every year as a kid. He has fond memories of the place, until he thinks about their last summer there.

His past is all super secrety and his fear that his younger sister, Dina, will find out about him working this case, is all very interesting but it leads to nothing.

Seriously. This book is 533 pages of dense crime fiction-y writing. And I would have been totally down with that if the secondary story had a point, but it doesn’t. Even the main event is kind of suspect. We spend a lot of time wandering around these wild animal message boards that one of the victims seemed obsessed with. Kennedy is a cranky old detective who wants you to believe that he’s seen it all but when his newbie partner sees things differently, Kennedy refuses to entertain his ideas.

I’m glad that these “Dublin Murder Squad” books work as standalones because I don’t think I want to spend any more time with Kennedy. The sister angle, which could have been so great, was really just sad. Same with the actual crime. It kind of made me feel like a voyeuristic creep for enjoying the sad state of their lives.

At least I didn’t enjoy it too much.

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A Perfect Thriller: Broken Promise

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

In my books there is nothing better than a long weekend spent reading crime fiction in the sun. There is something about reading stories of the terrible things people do to each other while you sit in glorious weather that just feels so right.

So when I got some book mail that included Linwood Barclay’s Broken Promise just in time for the long weekend, I was in heaven. I devoured this book. When I stopped reading it, it felt like I had been holding my breath the whole time. I took down those 484 pages in less than 24 hours.

broken promise

David Harwood had returned home to Promise Falls to live with his parents. He left his job in Boston to take a job at the paper back home so that he would have more time at home with his son. On his first day back, the paper folds. Since he has nothing to do, his mom asks him to please take over some frozen meals to his cousin Marla. She’s been having a hard time the last 10 months, ever since her baby daughter died at birth. Marla even tried to steal a baby from the hospital. When David arrives he finds a baby with Marla, a little boy, who she says was left on her doorstep by an angel. Knowing Marla’s history, David fears the worst, especially when the baby’s mom is found dead.

According to Goodreads, this is book #1 in the Promise Falls series. But a lot of stuff was referenced in this book that made it feel like there had been other books before. It made me want to run to the library and find all of his other books and catch up.

This book was fast paced. Something changed or happened every few pages. We get perspectives from a number of different characters: Marla’s mother, the hospital administrator intent on making sure that nothing bad happens to Marla, the detective charged with solving the case of the dead woman as well as looking into strange occurrences all over town, the detective’s son who recently got a job with the disgraced former mayor. There are so many layers to this story, so many pieces that have to fit together in order for the big picture to make sense and Barclay ably juggles them all.

That said, when I finished reading this book I almost threw it across the lawn. Ask my mother-in-law. Turns out that Broken Promise is the first book in a trilogy of linked novels, which means I’m going to have to wait another nine months to get some of the answers I seek.

On the bright side, that should give me some time to familiarize myself with his other work. Next to crime fiction reading in the summer, crime fiction reading at Christmas is my favourite.