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I recently enjoyed reading the latest novel by thriller writer Gregg Hurwitz : "Or She Dies". The book was my introduction to this author and it left me keen to read his other work.
"I See You" was first published in 2007. The story centres around author Drew Danner, who wakes up in hospital having suffered a brain haemorrhage. Drew cannot remember the past 24 hours at all and is shocked to find an LAPD officer standing over his bed.
As he is told about having a brain tumour removed, he is shown a photograph of a blood-spattered body of a woman. A woman he recognises as his ex-fiance Genevieve. However, if that wasn't quite enough, he is then accused of her murder.
Although he can remember nothing. Drew is convinced he is not to blame. However, the evidence is stacked against him. He suffered his brain haemorrhage at the scene of the crime and was found beside the body, his prints all over the murder weapon.
Drew is convicted, but is freed on the grounds that he had no control over his actions due to his brain tumour. It is still not enough for Drew, who accepts that maybe he did commit murder, but is not totally convinced and wants to be clear that there is no way anyone else could have been responsible.
There are some sick, twisted people in LA and if Drew is to clear his name he needs to find out who framed him for the murder. It soon becomes apparent that Drew is being watched. Someone is toying with him and just as he begins to realise this, another body is found, and once again Drew finds himself a suspect in a murder case. Even though he provides what he hopes will be accepted as an alibi, he remains a suspect.
I was quickly drawn into this book as it begins with Drew waking up in hospital being told he has murdered his ex - fiance.
I do like to be hooked from the first page and this was certainly the case here. A few pages in, the pace of the book slows down as Drew returns home and is trying to piece together his thoughts and coming up with very little.
The book is written in the first person, from Drew's point of view and Hurwitz does a great job with Drew's state of mind. The frustration at not being able to remember and feeling certain that he did not murder Genevieve comes across very well.
As other things begin to happen following his return home, Drew begins to question his own sanity. The way Hurwitz puts this across makes for great reading.
I enjoyed Drew's character. He is interesting and a character the reader will find it easy to warm to. Right away, I found myself believing that Drew did not murder his ex and someone else was indeed responsible.
We are also introduced to some of Drew's friends and editor. All are well-developed, at times slightly too much so in my opinion. Whilst it is important to develop the other characters, I did feel at times that there were some descriptive elements which could have been left out. I am not one for reading a lot about a character's life if it is not necessary and just feel that Hurwitz wrote a little more than necessary at times which was making me want to skim the page to get to a more interesting part.
Junior Delgado, a young graffiti artist who lives in a residential home and always in bother for spray painting is a great character. The rapport between him and Drew was really good and made for interesting and at times amusing reading. The same can be said for Drew's friend Chic, a onetime baseball star. These characters inject a little warmth and humour into this tense thriller which creates a nice diversion, but is also essential to the story.
The LAPD officers seem a little cliched. Sarcastic and disbelieving, at times a little irritating, but maybe this is how it really is.
There are a few characters in the book who work in the various police and homicide departments who Drew used to call upon for help when writing novels. He tries to enlist their help to try and prove his innocence, but finds that for the most part, they can't or won't assist him anymore. Instead he has to resort to some unorthodox measures to find answers.
It was interesting to read how Drew finds out who his real friends are and also how people react to him following his conviction. I found myself hoping he would prove everyone wrong.
I think the sometimes lengthy character descriptions are just Hurwitz' style as I recall it was the same in the other novel I read. He is a brilliant thriller writer and comes up with good plots. But where an author such as Harlan Coben manages to keep you gripped from start to finish and has the right amount of character development, Hurwitz tends to elaborate a little too much with things that are not really necessary in my opinion.
Having said that, the actual plot was really good. What I particularly enjoyed was the twist at the end which I did not see coming. I had been thinking all along that someone other than Drew was responsible for the murders and had my suspicions, but nothing prepared me for the ending which was very surprising and a great twist.
Maybe someone else might have see it coming, but I honestly had no idea and this was the best part of the book for me.
From the middle of this book where the pace picks up again, to the end, I found it very difficult to put this book down. The plot deepens and the predictable directions you think the book is heading off to, suddenly change, and this becomes a true thrilling page-turner which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I do think if you enjoy Harlan Coben novels and good thrillers with twists and turns, then you will enjoy Gregg Hurwitz. I am looking forward to reading more from him.
Looking for a new author to read and having just finished the excellent HEART SICK BY CHELSEA CAIN, (see my review...hint-hint) I picked up this novel sent to me by the same person who gave me HEART SICK. The concept struck me as highly original- a suspect in a murder is found at the crime scene; the victim is his ex-wife and yet he cannot remember himself whether he is guilty due to a brain aneuryism suffered at the time of the murder or thereabouts. Following a court case in which he walks away unconvicted, LA based author, Drew Danner decides to take up an investigation into himself- especially when it becomes apparent that someone is trying to frame him when another body suddenly emerges!!
The whole waking up to a dead body with no idea how you got there concept may not be new but the twist of the brain aneuryism is something I had not come across before. As it was reccommended to me, I was looking forward to this but felt ultimately a little disappointed.
Danner is not an instantly likeable guy, nor I suspect is he meant to be, and this weakened a novel told from his viewpoint. That said, I have overcome such a flaw before in novels but it didn't help me that I felt the style of writing, the clever gimmick of the aneuryism removed, wasn't quite up to par from what I was expecting. I can be quite a demanding reader at times and unfortunately this book left me feeling highly critical. I felt as though it set the bar high right from the opening pages then hit it broadside as it attempted to clear it in the high jump. The L.A detectives investigating Danner for their own reasons struck me as highly cliched (though I suspect that they are meant to be) and the whole novel never really decides whether it is trying to be a satirical look at the way Crime fiction is written (we see segments of the novel Danner is writing about his investigation into himself complete with editorial notes from his publisher and we are never entirely sure just how neutral a version of events we are getting as Danner comes over as a very unreliable narrator at times) or whether it is a serious thriller. I actually quite like the satirical pieces of the novel but they are never satisfying enough to bring this novel to anything near a comfortable climax. The end result feels too much like a batch of interrupted intercourse that ends before you reach the money shot. (Girls out there will probably know whats that like- not my wife though, uh-uh lol!)
It's clever, it's fairly original but it's a bit too wishy-washy Charlie Brown for my liking though I don't regret reading it, I am glad I didn't spend more toime on it when theres much more worthwhile thrillers out there worth chasing down. Even TESS GERITSEN, though nowhere near brilliant, is better than this and at least her novels are as temporairly satisfying as say a Big Mac whilst this is the equivalent of cold chicken nuggets and a broken Happy Meal toy.
It's okay but don't expect anything too astounding and prepare to feel a bit deflated at the end if you do give it a go...