Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
When the Cutter family's next-door-neighbours, the Langleys, are gunned down in their house one hot August night, the Cutters' world is turned upside down. That violent death should have come so close to them is shocking enough in suburban Promise Falls, but at least the Cutters can console themselves with the thought that lightning is unlikely to strike twice in the same place. Unless, of course, the killers went to the wrong house... At first the idea seems crazy - but each of the Cutter family has a secret they'd rather keep buried. What was on that old computer teenage Derek and his friend Adam Langley had salvaged? And where is it now? What hold does a local professor and bestselling author have on Ellen Cutter? And what does Jim Cutter know about Mrs Langley that even her husband didn't? To find out who killed the Langleys and why, everybody's secrets are going to have to come out. But the final secret - the secret that could save them or destroy them - is in the one place nobody would ever think of looking...
I really love easy to read, fast-paced suspense novels like this. They give me a nice break from some of the harder novels I try to get through, and I like the sense of satisfaction I get in the end once everything has been unravelled. I like to guess at the mysteries, and I’ve read so many of these kinds of books that I’m normally correct, but this time I was surprised - I was only right half of the time! (This is quite the killer for someone who prides herself on always being right!)
Some of the characters were, I felt, extremely well developed. I felt myself identifying and sympathising with the most evil of characters, even the killer! I liked how Barclay portrayed Derek, the narrator’s seventeen year old son. Sometimes I feel that writers tend to try too hard when depicting young people - they come across as forced, the author’s trying to be ‘hip’, and it rarely works – but I feel this time it worked incredibly well. Derek behaved exactly how a teenager should. However, I felt certain characters were quite dull, most of all the narrator, Jim. Whenever something happened that he didn’t like, he’d punch someone, or act aggressively. That seemed to be his only answer to a variety of problems, and it just seemed a bit superficial and almost puerile. His wife, Ellen, also seemed a bit dull and underdeveloped to me. I had no idea who she was.
The novel was written in first person, from Jim’s point of view. I couldn’t help but think that it may have worked a lot better in third person. There were so many different stories from different people tangling together that I thought there might be more suspense should it have been written in third person, or if there had been narratives from various viewpoints, rather than just Jim Cutter’s.
Another thing I didn’t particularly like was that half of the plot was given away by the blurb on the back cover. Not only this, but Jim’s wife’s name was ‘Eileen’ on the back cover, and ‘Ellen’ in the book. Oh dear!
It was very engaging, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a casual read that doesn’t require too much effort from the reader. I’m perhaps a bit out of season, but I think it’d make the perfect holiday novel.
66 / 66 books. 100% done!