Top critical review
Beware the Past
15 July 2018
More mystery than thriller, Beware the Past has an ‘old-school’ feel to it, which I loved. I even checked the publication date to see if it was an ‘oldie’ – it’s not, it was published in 2017. But if you love the simpler style of older crime fiction, then this novel may appeal to you. When I use the phrase ‘old-school’ – I mean it in the way that, for example, Law and Order: SVU is ‘old-school’, an older production, yet highly interesting, but noticeably different from new crime shows. Beware the Past is dark in nature, and dark in location – the setting of this novel really adds a sense of desolation and eeriness to the read.
The characters were believable but I didn’t really care about them or their fate, beyond wanting the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose. Usually, I’m a fan of the detective tormented by their past, but here, I felt nothing towards Matt’s turmoil. The characters weren’t over-written, they just didn’t standout, thus the emphasis was the mystery. Ellis writes in a fluid way that means you can breeze through this novel despite the dark content; the chapters are short which allows you to sneak in another, and another, and another, till you decide you might as well go ahead and just finish the book.
The ending to Beware the Past was good, but predictable. It was due to the blurb – “an absolutely breathtaking conclusion” – and the tagline – “…with a huge twist” – that I figured out the ending, this isn’t a spoiler but those phrases made me think of the most outrageous, yet possible ending, and alas that was the ending. As you can see, the phrases give nothing away but I guess, once you read so many crime books, with some of the more straight-forward plots, you’re able to figure it out. There was some originality in the ending that I appreciated, and I think it would work well played out on the screen.
This was my first novel by Ellis and I would certainly read more from her in the future. Beware the Past is a good novel, well-written, but not one I would rush to recommend because I couldn’t connect with the characters and I guessed the ending. However, my favourite thing about this novel, it’s ‘old-school’ vibe.