I've read a novel by Linwood Barclay before but barely remembered it, just that it was a good read. I came across Fear The Worst in the library and whilst there wasn't much to give away just how amazing a writer she is, the book didn't let me down.
We're told a little about the basic plot on the front cover : 'His daughter's just gone missing. And that's just the beginning'. The book introduces us to the protagonist, Tim Blake, a car salesman. Blake split from his wife and has a teenage daughter with her, whom is staying for another summer whilst working. Rather than working in the car showroom again, she's taken up a receptionist position at the Just Inn Time. With just the two of them at Blake's house, their relationship can feel a little strained at times, but that's all about to change.
As predicted from the tagline on the cover, Sydney goes missing. She doesn't come home from work one night and although she and her dad had a little tension earlier, it's not like her. He investigates. He goes to the hotel, only no one claims to even know her. Things aren't looking good and what goes from murky water turns to a giant black hole as Tim tries to make sense of the situation.
We're gradually introduced to more characters; Sydney's mum and her newer partner Bob, along with his son, the owners of businesses where Tim trawls to find his daughter, the creepy and clingy woman Tim had been seeing for a few weeks who won't take a hint, and Sydney's friends including the out-spoken and slightly wayward teen Patty.
As the novel goes on the investigation gets more complex. Detective Jennings has no leads and at first the disappearance was looked on as a runaway. But quickly things start getting out of control and as more people get involved and dead bodies turn up, the eyes of the cops focus in on Tim.
I won't say anymore except to say that the plot does get relatively complex without being overly so. I didn't find it altogether too unbelievable either, and it didn't confuse me considering the relatively fast pace of action and characters being drawn together. Barclay has a style of writing that captures the complexity and makes it clear, easy to read and most importantly, she makes it enjoyable. I found myself empathising with the characters, especially Tim, whose ordeal must have been heart-wrenching, and yet he perseveres to find his daughter at any cost.
This book had a good depth of characters and plot whilst also being original. I was interested to find out what happened next, gripped to read the next page, and it was easy enough to keep reading once you started. For me, that's the sign of a good book; looking forward to picking it up and then finding it hard to put down. There's more praise for Barclay on the cover, including : 'This is one of those rare read-at-one-sitting books... Barclay is an extremely talented storyteller and a great addition to the crime thriller genre' - Daily Mail.
Overall, I would recommend this, especially to crime thriller fans. It'll keep you guessing, intrigued and entertained.
471 pages over 46 chapters.
RRP £7.99 but selling on Amazon for £4.73 (paperback)
Linwood Barclay has the ability to wind a brilliantly fast paced thriller, making it really hard to put his books down. There is something nonsense free about his style of writing that puts him not quite at the fast paced level of reading as James Patterson, but gives a bit more substance and plot than Patterson often does. There's a bit more body to his stories, and having enjoyed his previous two stand alone novels, No Time For Goodbye and Too Close To Home, I was really looking forward to Fear The Worst.
Used car salesman Tim Blake is fraught when his daughter Sydney goes missing, and under the most unusual of circumstances. No one seems to have any idea where she might be, the hotel she works at have never heard of her, and there are some sinister people out looking for her as well. Enlisting the help of a sympathetic policewoman, his ex-wife, and a few acquaintances, Tim decides his life must be dedicated to finding Syd: acceptance of her death is not an option.
Barclay grabs you from the start, giving quick and brief descriptions of both people and places. It's enough to give your mind's eye a decent picture of them, but not enough to fill in the edges, if you see what I mean. The plot gets going quickly, and there's no preamble, which I liked, and by the time 30 pages or so have gone by, you really feel like you're deep in the novel already.
Yet it's not all plain sailing. Certain things are glossed over quite a bit, and this is a trait Barclay seems to have. The tales aren't completely rooted in the realm of likeliness, as I quickly found out with various events that happen along the way in all three of his books. No Time For Goodbye was a completely new concept to me, and his style grabbed me even if the plot was a little far fetched. Too Close To Home was also a little far fetched, and so I was expecting this one to be the same. Even so, it's almost as if Barclay is digging a big hole and keeps forgetting to fill it back in again, so by the time it comes for explanations in the plot, things are so far deep in that no explanation is going to completely cover it.
This does mean that you wait and wait, expecting some monumental conclusion and plot twist to come your way, only to realise that the solution is almost like the easy way out, the most predictable ending that you yourself ha likely thought of way back before page 100 came around. It left things a bit too open for me, and also didn't completely satisfy the reasons for various people's actions. I can't really go into details too much, but quite a few of the characters are irrational in their actions and subsequent paranoid reactions, and it bugged me a bit. The ending was a case of blink and you miss it, and I did feel that a book of 460 pages or so should really have had a more developed and drawn out ending than the abrupt page or two that we get. It needed an epilogue of sorts, for me.
That having been said, the way the book reads is brilliant, and I can't fault the enjoyability of reading something I didn't want to put down. I felt the text flowed very well indeed, and there were no lengthily strung sentences with excessive punctuation, a style which is fine but only when consistent. Barclay keeps it safe, thereby appealing to a wider audience of those who just want something easy to read as well as those who are looking for a tense thriller and something they can get their guessing hat on for.
The characters are actually quite decent and memorable, despite the rather glossed over pace of it all. The scenes with character interaction are probably the key to this, as the tale is told in the narrative, with Blake telling the story. This means we get his personal perceptions on other characters, and other observations that might otherwise go unnoticed. It also means there a certain sense of claustrophobia, as we are effectively stuck in Blake's head, and therefore everything on paper is either what he's thinking or saying, to a certain extent. This limits the lengthy descriptions and makes for the plain reading. Characters develop through Blake's eyes, and no doubt were the book to be written from another's perspective, we'd get different character development. An interesting look at perspective here.
Overall, then, a decent book. It reads brilliantly, but completely let me down with the ending and the pace at which the book finished. It really was a case of blink and you'll miss it, and this for me was a real disappointment. Were it not for this, this'd be receiving stars, but as riveting and hard to put down as it was, disappointment is the last thing the book had to give me. Recommended for the read, but beware the ending.
Tim Blake's worst fear is realised one afternoon when his daughter, Sydney, fails to return home from her summer job at a local hotel. After visiting her place of work, Tim becomes even more concerned when they insist they have never heard of her; that she has never worked there.
Frantic, Tim and his ex wife begin asking everyone Syd knew to find out where she could have gone and Tim starts to worry that she might not even be alive. That is until Tim starts to get threats against his life and realises that there are people that want to find Sydney as much as he wants to and it becomes a race against time to find her before they do.
Yet another book by best selling crime/suspense/thriller novelist Linwood Barclay that has been hyped so much it is hard to avoid it when you walk into book shops! But does it live up to the hype I hear you ask?
As always, Barclay sticks to his tried and tested formula - someone close to the main character goes missing; the main character becomes determined to track them down and then becomes the main suspect in the crime. All this happened in the previous book I've read (Never Look Away) and this formula remains a fixture in "Fear the worst" storyline. As much as I'd like to complain about this, it is a fixture that he uses to great success even if it is a tad frustrating and predictable.
Barclay always manages to create a strong, usually male, lead character and Tim is no exception to this. Strong, a good father figure by all accounts but with enough flaws and vulnerabilities to make him believable and likeable. Tim is a single dad with a failed career behind him but who is starting again doing something he likes, searching for love but finding the wrong person in the process. It is all perfect, and really sets the scene for what unfolds with his daughter.
The storyline of a missing person is nothing new, especially as I've already mentioned, in Barclays books. However, I found this one more compelling purely because the missing person is in fact his teenage daughter - surely every parents worse nightmare. So from the moment Sydney goes missing, the reader is wondering exactly what is going on. Often, Barclay makes these stories quite complex which can become utterly confusing (but in a good way!) when thinking about the reasons or motives behind someone missing/dead etc etc.
In fact, I've discovered that Linwood Barclay does do an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing; I may have had an inkling of what was going on, but I could never quite connect the dots until the closing chapters making it a very compelling read indeed. However, I found that at the stories revelation, I was less impressed than I had been with other books of his. The whole scenario which has led to Sydney's disappearance didn't seem all that believable to me, even if I did suspend my belief and walk into the world of fiction books. I've enjoyed his books in the past where I've seen a grain of something that could happen in real life, but this one seemed straight out of a movie script and was a massive disappointment to me in its final chapters.
Overall I'd say this was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Readability wise it is no problem, I enjoyed it and as always, enjoyed trying to work out possible motives or reasons why Sydney was missing. Once again, as I've mentioned there is a compelling and likeable main character in Tim Blake whose opinions and perspective helped to create and sustain the sense of mystery surrounding his daughter's disappearance. However, I did feel let down by the revelation, dramatic? Yes absolutely, believable? Nope, for me not in the slightest; this has taken a bit of power away from Barclay. Not his strongest to date, but a book you could pick up and get stuck in to nonetheless!
I picked this book up initially for me husband as this is one of his preferred genres to read. However I have also, like him, read both of Linwood Barclays other book's and because I enjoyed them I decided once my husband had finished reading it I would give it a go. I have just finished it and this is my opinion on the authors third book.
Linwood Barclay is an Canadian author who lives near Toronto. He has written two previous novels which are also both in the thriller genre. His first book 'No time for goodbye' was the Richard and Judy summer read winner of 2008 and 'Too close to home' was also a number one best seller.
Tim Blake's world is turned upside down when his teenage daughter Sydney goes missing. Not knowing whether she has been kidnapped or has simply gone missing is driving him and his ex wife Susanne insane. They are doing everything they can to find her whilst still trying to carry on with their lives in the hope that she will turn up. However all is not as it seems as somebody else also seems to be looking for Sydney and it doesn't help that Tim has found out she was never even working where she said she was so it just seems one dead end after another. Will Tim and Susanne ever find their daughter and is she even still alive? Should they really be fearing the worst?
Tim Blake is made out to be an average kind of guy and he really is too with the way he goes to work, comes home and from day to day does what so many other people around the world do. When his daughter goes missing he is how you would expect him to be and does everything within his power to try and find her. I like that he is such a normal person and think this definitely makes the book work better because we feel for him more.
The main other people in this book are his ex wife Susanne and her boyfriend Bob. Susanne also comes across as a decent person so once again it makes the reader more inclined to want to know what is going on to her daughter. Bob is a bit of a pain but, I think this is because the author wants us to dislike him somewhat!
Of course we don't see much of the missing girl Sydney in the book but, she is made out to be a fairly decent girl who her parents cannot imagine would get herself involved in much trouble which is why they cannot understand why she has gone missing and refuse to believe that the police may be right, in that she may be involved in things that are illegal!
I bought this book in Tesco as part of the 'Buy one get one free' offer - the RRP on this book is £7.99 so as this was a higher priced book I paid this for the two books I bought that day making each book £4. I think this is still very good value for a brand new book and for one of our regular authors to read I wouldn't think twice about paying this much for a book.
I expected to enjoy this book because after reading other books by the same author I knew I would like the style of writing and hopefully as long as the storyline was good I would be able to get stuck in and really enjoy it.
I would say I did enjoy the book and the story was good because it was different to his other books in what or who was involved and yet at the same time it still had those elements of a good book that keep you gripped such as wondering what is just around the next corner and also being able to really see things from the characters point of view. The story is all told from Tim's side so we can see his thought processes and how frustrated he gets when people don't believe him and this makes the book very gripping to the reader!
There is only really one flaw of the book and that for me is I felt the book ended a bit suddenly somewhat - maybe not even suddenly is really the right word but, it feels like there should have been a little bit more explanation. In one way it is not really actually needed as we, as the reader, do know what has now happened but, personally for me, I felt the book could have ended slightly better!
Overall though I will still give this book a good rating as I think it was enjoyable, got me thinking and I didn't want to put it down.
I was eagerly awaiting the release of Fear the Worse by Linwood Barclay as I had enjoyed his previous two books very much. No time for Goodbye and Too Close to Home have been the best books that I have read in a long time, so once again I was expecting really good things from his latest offering, and I even though I have tried hard not to compare all three of the books and view this one completely independently, it is almost impossible as they have such similarities running through them - in fact, this one is disappointingly almost a carbon copy of the first.
The story opens with Sydney Blake and her father, Tim Blake, having breakfast. In just a couple of pages Barclay outlines that Syd has the stubborn attitude of any other 17 year old girl. Her parents are long since divorced and she is spending the summer at her Dad's house, she is an only child and still finding her way in life whilst still needing the support of her parents. Tim wants to be the best father that he can in the little time that he spends with Syd. They are just a regular family, nothing special about them at all until the day that Sydney goes to work and never comes home. The hotel where she said she had been working all summer deny all knowledge of ever knowing, yet alone employing Syd and Tim soon finds himself on a violent one man mission to find his missing daughter.
Written in the first person, the reader follows Tim as he searches for his daughter. Tim is an everyday man - a used car salesman - who has made it through and out of the other side of bankruptcy and divorce and is putting his life back together which is exactly why I struggled to believe some of his actions. He develops into a foul-mouthed man who is too quick with his fists and quite regularly behaves like a bully without giving it a second thought - I know he is distressed about his missing daughter, but he just didn't ring true. Character flaws and inconsistencies in his behaviour did not endear me to Tim at all.
I do like a bit of description in the books that I read, but I feel that Barclay went over the top throughout this novel. His constant name dropping of car makes and models almost made me wonder if he was being sponsored, they generally meant nothing to me and were insignificant to the storyline. I also did not feel as though I needed to be taken through every single step and movement that Tim took which very often simply felt like unnecessary padding. By the time I was a third of the way through the book, nothing really had happened, and I didn't even feel as though it was "scene setting"; it was quite simply dull. There is one point where Tim is in quite a lot of danger and it goes on for so many pages repeating the same thing over and over again that it becomes quite ridiculous and very unbelievable.
The other characters that held this book together were also quite predictable and fairly average. None of the baddies stood out as menacing like they should probably have been and Tim's allies were all weak and non-descript, especially his ex-wife who got on my nerves as a helpless human who seemed to do little to look for her own daughter and her new partner who wasn't at all bothered that Syd was missing.
I can't help thinking that if I hadn't read the other two books, then this one would have been better. I was expecting so much and in my opinion it simply didn't deliver and I was left feeling somewhat flat and disappointed. All the way through, I truly hoped that it would suddenly take a turn and get better, but alas, this did not occur! Because I was always waiting for something, maybe I didn't appreciate the book fully for what it was, but I found it to be monotonous and at times; quite hard work. There is a little twist at the end, but I could see it a mile off, and even when I had finished the book, I turned over the page expecting there to be another chapter and more of a conclusion!
I feel let down by Linwood. Even though this is a fairly readable book, it is too predictable and has no punch to it at all. I expected a lot more and on this occasion, he simply has not delivered. I will read his next book with the hope that he has come up with something different, but if he is going to keep churning out the same old story but with different characters, it will not be too long before I give up on him. Come on Linwood, surprise us again!
I picked my copy up for £3.99 (on offer at half price) in Waterstones, but it is also available widely online and in all good (and bad) bookshops.
Also published on Ciao under my usermname chilcott1
After reading No Time For Goodbye and Too Close To Home, I was eagerly awaiting the next book from Linwood Barclay, so I was over the moon when I found out he had released a new one. However, rather than calling at the shops to pick up a copy, I was straight on the phone to my local library requesting this book when it was available! I only had to wait for a week before I had my hands on this latest edition, and it was just in time for my girly trip abroad. Being a fan of fast-paced thrillers I couldn't wait to start this book and I literally couldn't put it down, finishing it in two days - it was that good!
The story focuses on 17 year old Sydney Blake, who splits her time between her divorced parents. This summer she is due to spend some quality time with her dad, and whilst he is at work at the local Honda dealership, she decides to be pro-active and get herself a job at the local hotel, until one night she doesn't return home from work. At first, worried Tim puts it down to the petty argument they had before she left for work about where she had found the money for those new D & G sunglasses she had on, but as the hours drag by, he realises something more sinister may have become of his precious daughter. Up until this point, the book didn't seem to be really going anywhere and was a little bit slow to get started, but it soon kicked in when Tim visits the Just Inn Time hotel to find out where she is, only to be told that they have never heard of Syd and she certainly hasn't ever worked there. A frantic Tim searches for any clues he can find by questioning Syd's friends, and suddenly he receives a threat that he will be killed if he does not stop searching for his daughter.
This is a really fast paced book, with story lines going off in all directions with unanswered questions throughout. The book cleverly distracts you from what is actually happening and only at the end do you realise the who's, why's and where's of the story.
The characters are likeable and you really feel for Tim, despite him being a fictional character, and through the twists and turns of the book, it is clear that not everyone is on his side - including the police who are giving him a hard time over the disappearance of his daughter.
A very good read, which allows you to switch off from the outside world and totally absorb yourself in the storyline, which is quite dramatic in many places with many 'that just wouldn't happen' parts, but if you can see past that you will thoroughly enjoy this book. Barclay seems to have a way with words that reminds me a little of James Patterson before he became a churner. He writes in such a way that it engages you as a reader, but is really easy to read so you don't stumble over the words or have to re-read sections.
The paperback version of this book is due to be released in early July and can be pre-ordered from Amazon, or the hard back version is available to buy for £9.51, however I would recommend you get down to your local library and get it for free!