Disclaimer: I received this book from NetGalley via Simon & Schuster Publishers for free, with the intention of providing a review. All thoughts, notes, opinions are my own.
I will include vague spoilers but nothing that would ruin the storyline, just give away a few character and plot points.
Also, I was given a pre-release, uncorrected readers proof so I may report on things have changed since publication. Due to my vague writing to avoid ruining the storyline, I doubt this will have an impact.
Let me just start off by saying that I am a major Kathy Reichs fan. Her Tempe Brennan books were some of the first proper 'adult' books I began reading when I was younger and what got me into this genre of book. I would actually also credit her into getting me into reading as a hobby. Perhaps even into reviewing. As such, I feel I know her books well enough to understand her way of writing.
Which is perhaps why I've only four starred this book. Kathy has broken free of her Brennan series with this – so far – stand alone book with a new character and story. I know she came away slightly with her Virals series but not far enough with the main character being her nephews daughter with Tempe herself making appearances.
Unfortunately I don't think she came away enough.
Sunday Night. She's our new heroine. A tall redhead with a surly attitude, war wounds and a past. So far so good.
Its instantly apparent that it Reichs' writing. I could have received this book with no author information and know it was hers. Her style, her penchant for first person narrative and even her terminology make it clear who's typing these words.
One example of this on the very first page is referring to something as a “Dead maggot jamboree”. Not even a chapter in and we've got a Temperence comment.
To be fair though, the first chapter gets the book moving in the right direction. By the end we've got the plot taking shape. Sunday, an ex army, ex cop has been co-erced into a new job and out of retirement. Cool.
After this, without giving anymore away, she continues down this avenue and sets the scenes as only Kathy can. Pure description on weather, noises, surroundings, buildings etc. Her ability to really set up the scene in your imagination is second to none.
At this point I'm still struggling to connect with the character of Sunday. Reichs' insistence that this woman is closed down, sarcastic and dry seems to be going beyond my thoughts of “oh this woman is hardcore” towards “this woman is actually just being an intentional bitch”.
Still, I continue. Chapter after chapter bring awesome drama and action keeping me reading way past my bedtime. The only slight draw back is Kathys descriptions of places and directions she's taking. I know she's trying to set the scene but an entire paragraph on which streets she's walking seems to be a touch excessive.
Not too far in we have a new character introduced which is frankly extremely confusing. Without ruining it, her relationship to this person completely conflicts with her description of this persons appearance. The character seems to be in a similar profession, but I don't recall this ever being explained. Other than this, their personalities are completely different, which is refreshing reprieve from reading in the perspective of someone who'd I'd probably do all I could to avoid if in real life.
Fast forward to the very last chapter and this relationship is briefly explained in a confusing moment during a conversation with a reoccurring background character. I had to read the page twice to make sure I understood and didn't miss anything.
Nope, it was still vague. BUT. I think this was intentional due to her continuing this character into a series much like the Brennan stories. Perhaps she intends to explain in more detail later on. I hope.
A twist I loved during the books entirety was every few chapters or so the Sunday Night story line was interrupted with a second story. Written in the third person, this separate narrative really gets the head scratching going.
Until the conclusion, I was constantly wondering if this new, nameless, character was to do with Sunday's case, something related, unrelated, or Sunday herself.
A clever twist that really keeps your interest and is a nice little break from the main storyline. Keep with it and resist flicking to the end to spoil it.
By now, my interest in the book has peaked and I'm not reading because I have to write this, but because I want to. Because its a new book by my literary hero and I'm invested in her and the new character.
The plot continues with twists, turns and typically predicable parts, but its great reading.
Then the end happens.
Same old Kathy. Our heroine, having discovered the main antagonists evil schemes is executing her plan to catch the baddy/baddies. Sunday's on a role. Doing her usual Reich's leading lady habit of not listening to what she's told by authority figures, going rogue and getting herself into trouble of some degree.
Then she goes off chasing a minor part of the puzzle, enters a showdown, is saved/helped/assisted then END CHAPTER. New chapter begins some time afterwards with bit part players filling in the gaps because she was off doing something else instead of being in the thick of the main action. It gets me every time. That quick, “Oh, this is what you missed” run down instead of seeing the rest of the story through.
When I first loaded this onto my iPad, that was the one thing I didn't want to see. Yes, she branched away from Forensic Anthropology – which she knows better than anyone – and ventured into partially new territory (not too far though as she writes about FBI, Police and that side of things often with Brennan so has obviously done previous research) but she just didn't break away from her usual story structure of 1. Meet Badass, 2. Learn to love Badass, 3. Roll your eyes constantly from her being a bit reckless but secretly love it. 4. TWIST TWIST TWIST. 5. Rushed ending.
If you read my last review on Kathy's last Brennan book then you'll see that this particular irk has plagued me during reading the last couple of her books. Its clearly a formula that works but as a big fan of hers, whose entire works I have read (in order, I may add), its a played out scenario for me.
But, in conclusion, I would recommend her book. To fans and non-fans. Its a good, interesting read. The characters do get under your skin and you begin to love them. You'll feel like you know the cities/towns she describes like you've been there yourself. But if you're like me, it will leave you feel slightly unfulfilled with lack of explanation with the characters.
I'm genuinely hoping she does continue this into a series and I'll read it, as I have every time she's released something. There is no doubt some of the loose ends in this one will be explored in future books and I believe it will get better.
All in all, its a great book from a new angle and I do recommend it.