Patricia Cornwell

This was a slow burn of a book; I nearly gave up on it multiple times at the beginning, but I wound up totally caught up in it, and very glad I’d stuck through. The writing style takes a lot of getting used to—it feels very stream-of-consciousness, but in a specifically neuroatypical way. Neuroatypical, and very stressed out, which fits very well with the actual events in the book. Especially given, as I realized something like 230 pages in, the entire contents of the book, a whole lot of events, took place in a single day. I, too, would be feeling fragmented and jittery if my day started with a morning presentation to an audience that included a surprise four-star general and ended after midnight with being part of Mission Control for a particularly dangerous spacewalk!

There’s also the core aspect of crime thriller to the book, and I also found that quite engaging once it actually started up. This book has my favorite bit of foreshadowing I’ve seen in quite a while, and I spent a large amount of my reading time repeating that one line to myself, waiting for the protagonist to figure it out. Because, like I said, she’s having a very long day; I am comfortably at home, doing some leisurely reading, but she is cramming two weeks’ worth of events into one 30-hour day. It makes sense that she’d miss it.1 It was so very satisfying to see that one line come back to help things click together.

My only complaint with this book is that it feels like it ended too early. There’s a sequel, of course, which I suspect I’m going to pick up at some point, but the amount of threads remaining doesn’t feel quite right for that. I don’t feel enough closure at the end of this book for it to be complete, but I also don’t feel enough open questions that I think there’s room for an entire second book. It’s the “cliffhanger at the end of the season” thing, really, it feels contrived to get you to come back next time. The story itself doesn’t want another book, it just wants another 100 pages.

Still, that’s not a terrible complaint to have, and I did very much enjoy the read. The setting is cool, the use of flashbacks—and, eventually, flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks—is a really interesting way to develop the backstory, and all the characters feel like real people with real problems. It was a good read, check it out.2

  1. Here’s the spoiler: the line is “playing musical cars today, ma’am?” It registers as a throwaway line from a background character who is particularly an asshole, and so with all that context it, again, makes perfect sense that the protagonist misses it. But oh, the payoff…
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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