Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #22: The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay

I didn't plan my reading that carefully - this should have been book #23, surely.

Number of pages: 451

The final book in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls Trilogy opens with the entire town's water supply being contaminated, causing everyone who drinks it to become suddenly ill, with several characters ending up dead as a result. It turns out that this is also the 23rd of May, so it is easy enough to guess that whoever was behind all the previous 23-related incidents was also responsible for this.

There is also a separate storyline that involves David Harwood, the hero from the first book, attempting to save Sam Worthington from her escaped convict husband, who seems intent of snatching their teenage son.

Also, yet another murder takes place involving a student, following on from previous incidents that took place in earlier novels.

The narrative structure is the same as the previous books, and is mostly in third person, except for some chapters that are in first-person narrative, and this time it is the local detective, Barry Duckworth, who does the narrating. I was looking forward to reading this, as I knew it would reveal the truth about the incidents.

Quite early on, I got a good idea of what the significance of the number 23 was, which turned out to be partially correct, and I also made up my mind as to who the perpetrator was. I started to feel that the book was going to be a bit of a cop-out, and that there would be no surprise.

I also had mixed feelings at first about the book, because it started off a bit slow; one of the earliest chapters just felt like a montage of characters getting violently ill, one after another.

Luckily, the book did gradually pick up and, although I was worried that it was too easy to figure out the truth, Linwood Barclay managed to throw in a large number of red herrings and plot twists that I was kept guessing throughout. In the end, the only real problem I had with this book was that the plot involving David and Sam was completely disconnected from all the other events and felt like a separate story completely; I'd hoped the two plots would eventually dovetail together.

I thought this book was an improvement on the previous instalment, "Far From True", and this novel really did keep me on my toes until the very end, with one final twist that I didn't see coming at all. It would be good if Linwood Barclay's writing returned to the town of Promise Falls in the future.

Next book: You Were Never Really Here (Jonathan Ames)
Tags: book review, crime fiction, murder mystery, mystery, suspense, thriller

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