I'm a huge fan of Crichton, but this was unbearable. The total lack of any plot development until half way through the book is compounded by the annoying voice of the reader.
The story is engaging from the beginning to the end. I love the format of the comments from each of the characters about "the big event" that start from the very beginning, even though you don't even know who the characters are at that point.
I couldn't wait to get in my car to commute to/from work just so I could continue this story.
I agree with previous reviewers that it can be difficult to follow the entire list of characters, but that's not the real problem I have with this book. It feels like the author was given the challenge of using every plot twist or scheme one could think of in just one story. Let's see, we've got jilted lovers, not one but two (or is it three?) love triangles, jealous lovers, hidden pasts, not one but TWO mysterious deaths, love/hate father-son relationships (again, more than one), an ex-cop destroyed by the loss of his wife, incest, sexual abuse, old/young sexual reltionships, repressed dreams imposed (and denied) one's children. I mean, come ON! It felt a lot more like a sampler than a cohesive story. I can't recommend it.
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