Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This was an Audible recommendation based on my previous selections, and after reading the summary, I thought it sounded promising. It certainly delivered on that promise with a tense thriller, well developed characters and a spot on reading by Scott Brick. Brick was consistently good throughout the entire story, but especially great with his voicing of hearing impaired Shep, the friend coming to repay a childhood debt. What a terrific character he is. The danger appears insurmountable, especially as the family has no idea what has brought it into their lives, but their committment to each other is what keeps them going. The story is well paced and plays fair by providing surprising twists without making them so preposterous that belief cannot be suspended. I sacrificed sleep by not being able to turn it off at the end of the day, needing to find out what came next. This author is new to me, but I am now looking at what else he has written. I hope other selections are as good as this one.
In response to reviewers who commented on the story's predictability, this is more of a psychological thriller than a real mystery. We know from the beginning who was harmed and who did the crime. The story gradually unfolds the details of how the crime occured and the consequences very effectively through the parallel time lines and stark personality changes of before and after the trauma. The Catherine of the early years was flawed and a little hard to like, but the Cathy of the later years, while difficult to deal with locked in her OCD purgatory, was one to root for to come out of her dark into the light of the truly living. As readers, our perceptions are challenged by the very flaws and weaknesses of both versions of Catherine. There were a few spots in the narrative where I needed to suspend belief a bit regarding what choices key characters made in what they did or did not communicate, but not enough of a flaw to downgrade my rating.
The strength of the writing and the dialogue ensured that I believed this story. I believed Cathy's fear, her need for control. I believed Stuart's concern and I definitely believed Lee's evil. The extremely well done reading by Karen Cass made these characters real. True enough, the subject matter is dark - no feel-good cheerleading going on here, but happily there are some unexpected little shots of humor tossed in for balance. And the ending was well handled - the destination worth the journey. There was no standing on the outside passively watching - I was fully pulled in right through to the end.
I detest spoilers, so I have been wracking my brain trying to decide how to write a useful review of this book without giving away crucial information. Clearly the central mystery is to determine whether James Norton is really Sir James Davenall returned from the dead. The multitude of characters take sides for or against, with several being uncertain. I took all three positions at different times. This long and densely plotted mystery gives up its clues sparsely and cunningly, requiring you to pay close attention and remember what you’ve heard especially regarding names and dates. The Davenall family has more skeletons in their closets than a whole host of haunted houses. Different interested parties are tracking down different skeletons, resulting in the puzzle pieces being distributed among a variety of characters acting on their own agendas, and not necessarily sharing with the others. Sometimes I thought I had a thread untangled only to be confounded by new information from another direction. I really did have to wait to the end to get all the puzzle pieces in place, and there were still surprises once I got there, with a hint of menace left in the final scene.
This is my first Goddard book, but not the last. The writing is wonderful, and the reading by Michael Kitchen puts this on my list of best narrated books. He is by turns smooth, intense, emotional, cruel and bewildered. He handles male and female, young and old voices believably, adding drama and atmosphere without calling distracting attention to himself. A tour de force performance that has me looking for more of his readings.
I think this is Sanford's best book yet. It is definitely the best Virgil Flowers book I've read. The flow of the story is perfect. Frighteningly, it is very believable and well researched. Unfortunately, these type of issues do exist to some extent. He put together a great mix of mystery, thriller, action, suspense and even some romance. Eric Conger did his usual good job with the narration, especially during the big scene. He made it come to life and make it a real white knuckle event. I Highly recommend this book.It is one of the best credits I've used this year!