Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke one morning to discover that her entire family – mother, father, older brother – had vanished. No note, no trace, no return. Ever. Now, twenty-years later, she’ll learn the devastating truth.
Sometimes it’s better not to know…
Cynthia is happily married with a young daughter, a new family. But the story of her old family isn’t over. A strange car in the neighborhood, untraceable phone calls, ominous “gifts” – someone has returned to her hometown to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And no one’s innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time Cynthia discovers the killer’s shocking identity, it will again be too late… even for goodbye.
Upon finishing this book, I thought this book deserved solid 3.5 stars. However, as I reflected back on the story to write up my personal thoughts, I changed my mind and decided to give 4 stars instead for its entertainment value.
This is my first Linwood Barclay; as I mentioned in my #FridayReads post, I got this book from my friend and it turned out to be quite a read. I enjoyed the ride from beginning to end.
First, it is gripping right from the start. The writing is engaging and the plot is well-crafted. I liked how the undertone of the story gets darker and creepier as the story develops. When the story takes off, where Cynthia decides to make an appearance in a program to glean further information on her vanished family, the tone of the writing is still somewhat uplifting; it well showcases the one happy family despite the indelible, dark past that Cynthia has.
However, as Cynthia and Terry get themselves deeper into the case, the more strive they are to get down to the bottom of what happened to Cynthia’s old family 25 years ago, the strings of mysterious things start to happen around them; her father’s fedora left on the table, untraceable, anonymous calls, a stranger watching their house on the street, and a strange brown car parked on the street. These small bits and twists kept me intrigued and engaged in the story; it made me keep turning pages. This is really a page-turner.
It’s quite twisty, too. When I say ‘twisty,’ I mean ‘twisty down to the last minute.’ Although I found some of the revelations a bit anticlimactic, yet the revelation that is to be made in the very end kind of took me by surprise. I didn’t see it coming.
That said, however, it also left me feeling a bit far-fetched; it seems to me a bit inconceivable for a certain character – whose name I won’t divulge here – to go to such length even the given situation. I felt it was a bit of a stretch and spoiled the thrill, yet looking back the whole story, I guess I have to admit there were some hinting throughout the book. It didn’t make a ton of sense to me, yet it did to some extent. I guess I could live with that.
Story-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot on a vanished family and the mysteries surrounding it. I also liked how the side story on a crumbling marriage deftly intertwined with the main plot. While Cynthia gets more convinced that her family is still alive, Terry remains skeptic and even starts to doubt if Cynthia is pushing herself over the edge and making up the whole story to atone what he wonders she did 25 years ago. And the slight discordance on their take on the case starts to cause a rift in their relationship. I really enjoyed this aspect of ‘trust’; it gives more depth to the story.
The Clayton part is also gripping, too. It is where the big revelation is made and where the questions that readers might have will be answered.
Up until that point, with some of the questions being answered, I still had some issues with the story. I was like, “Okay, I got how it works. But how do you explain such a such a thing?” There were still some questions need to be answered.
This is where this Clayton part comes in; I personally absolutely loved this part. I would even go so far as to say this is what made this book for me. This is what hold this story together and shows the true meaning of the title of this book. I thought it was beautifully done.
Another thing I want to mention about this book is the tone of the writing.
Despite being a thriller, I didn’t scare the daylights out of me. There are some scenes where I found a bit graphic and too descriptive, but it was not like a full-on spine-chilling thriller to me; it was more like an entertaining, exciting thriller if you like, and I quite enjoyed it.
It is also pretty gripping, too. I think the author is really good at displaying the ferocity of the villains in the story. In particular, the sudden display of Vince’s ferocity made me gasp in surpise; it completely caught me off guard and grabbed me, wondering what’s going to happen next.
He is also brilliant at building up the tension at the suspenseful moments; there are some scenes that really put me on the edge of my seat, made me turn pages with bated breath.
It was a pure joy to go through his writing.
Although I didn’t get to connect to the characters as much, it didn’t pose any problems for me. Surprisingly, I wasn’t even emotionally attached to Terry, the narrator of the story. If anything, I adore Jane and Vince – the side characters. Jane is sassy, yet well-minded, such a likeable character and I liked how Vince’s character undergoes a change as he hangs out with Terry. I pretty much warmed up to him. I really liked him.
To wrap up my thoughts, I’m afraid to say that it didn’t grab 5 stars from me as a thriller, but I can say this is a such a delightful read.
This is undeniably a page-turner with an engaging, twisty interesting plot. You won’t get bored, I can vouch for that.