16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly Enjoyable Thriller,
This review is from: Never Look Away (Hardcover)
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On a visit to a local amusement park, Jan, David Harwood's wife of 5 years, goes missing and naturally he comes under close scrutiny by the local police.
That's basically it for the starting point and the author develops his plot, drawing a tight strand of suspicion around the husband for her disappearance/murder. It's very much a standard beginning for this kind of thriller, but Linwood Barclay does takes events in a not altogether expected direction.
For me, what prevents the book being close to a modern classic is he stops short of upping the suspense level to the point where you can hardly breathe as you read on. You're never entirely convinced that the police feel Harwood is really responsible. This is an essential component of the Hitchcockian thriller (yes, I know he made films rather than wrote books, but you take my point, I hope!). Having said that it is still a hundred miles an hour read and I raced through it in a day, finding it to be engrossing, well plotted and, ultimately, satisfying.
One large flaw, without giving too much away, is a major character is forced to live a lie for quite a few years and this didn't strike me as particularly believable. Still, the author isn't going for major realism here - it's pure enjoyable escapism.
I haven't read a single other reviewer's take on this book but I just KNOW that they're going to be drawing comparisons with Harlan Coben, because this novel definitely has his stamp on it: let's call it Coben-lite. Thing is, I found 'Never Look Away' to be preferable to quite a few of Harlan's thillers.
Why 'Surprisingly Enjoyable Thriller' for my title? Well, one of Barclay's previous three novels was a Richard & Judy Book Club selection. This for me is an almost guarantee that the book is fairly bland, and designed to appeal to a very broad (to be snobbish, often not particularly discriminating) readership. However, have no fear, this book is refreshingly good even though it has 'bestseller' written all over it. I'll definitely be looking out for this guy's earlier stuff.