Publisher: Head of Zeus/Aries
Pub date: 2 March
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Danny Pine, the eldest son of the Pine family, was convicted 6 years ago for the murder of his teenage girlfriend. His parents have always believed he’s innocent, and recently cooperated with a Netflix doc that claimed he was wrongfully convicted. Matt Pine, Danny’s brother, isn’t so sure of Danny’s innocence. The book opens when Matt hears some devastating news: his family – including his parents and two younger siblings – were found dead in their holiday home in Mexico. The book grapples with two mysteries: is Danny innocent? And how did the Pines die?
I thought the two mysteries were handled well, and I liked the way that they intertwined. This thriller kept me guessing as I was reading, though my suspicions were proved right in the end. Another thing I liked about this novel is the way that it’s told – though Matt is the main character, we also get the point of view of the FBI agent and Danny in the present day, flashbacks to other members of the Pine family before their deaths, and transcripts from the true crime documentary. The author did a good job of building suspense through the time jumps and narrator switches, drip feeding you information in a way that was frustrating in a good way (frustrating because I really wanted to know what happened!)
Another reason I thought these switches in point of view worked so well was that none of the characters were particularly well-developed or interesting – this was a book that definitely prioritised plot over character development. Constantly switching between people meant the author could get away more easily with having quite two-dimensional characters. However, as someone who prefers character development over plot, it did begin to wear on me a bit.
I also couldn’t connect with the characters. A lot happens in this book that should have me empathising like crazy with Matt, but I just didn’t really care. On top of that, I found his reactions to a lot of the events unbelievable/unconvincing. Death in this book is definitely a plot device – it is not meant to be emotional and it doesn’t want to engage with the theme of grief. So overall, though I liked the premise for this one, I found the character aspects of this book a bit of a let down. This is definitely one for people who prefer fast-paced and plot-focused books, who don’t care if their characters aren’t well fleshed out.
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