Published: 25th January 2018
Started reading: November 16
Finished reading: November 20
Trigger warnings: Child death, animal cruelty, references to rape
Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.
A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.
When the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, however, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all.
But how do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?
This was a book I had been looking forward to reading for some time. It seemed like the kind of gripping psychological thriller that I would really like, and it received a lot of positive publicity when it was released. But sadly, it turned out to be a letdown, as a combination of a hurried plot and poor characterisation left me disappointed.
The most positive thing I can say about this book is that it has a very original and intriguing concept, which kept me interested for most of the way. I liked a lot of the ideas that the author tried to convey throughout the story, so it is just a shame that not many of them were very well executed.
Several aspects of the book are seriously flawed, and the biggest problem for me has to be the pace, which is WAY too fast, even for a thriller. It moves along so quickly that it makes the story feel extremely rushed, and this took away a lot of the tension and made several of the characters seem pretty one-dimensional.
The main character is Sam, who I found it almost impossible to engage with. As well as being fairly unlikable and possessive, she has very little depth. There are fleeting moments where you are given a little insight into more complex sides of her character, but it is never explored in any real detail.
The way her relationship with Dennis develops seems very contrived. It all happens so quickly at the start of the book – they exchange letters and before you know it, they declare their scarcely believable love for each other. There is only one word to describe it – insta-love!
Dennis himself is actually quite a fascinating character, and the underlying themes of this book centre on his true motives and the secrets he may be hiding. However, it all amounts to a chaotic ending that also feels rushed, and where several important things are not explained properly, just in keeping with the rest of the book.
The writing style was clear and concise, very easy to read. There were not many standout lines as the author definitely prioritised action and interaction, but in general the dialogue was good.
Overall, this book did not meet my expectations. I liked the premise and the way the book keeps you guessing about Dennis and what is lying beneath the surface, but there are just too many flaws. The super-fast pace and the overall lack of depth really undermines what is a potentially good story, and in the end, it is neither tense nor thrilling.
A book with an intriguing concept, but massively rushed and let down by its execution. It is popular and many may love it, but there were too many flaws for me.
My rating: ⭐⭐