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From the outside, everything appears simply rosy for the Friedman family. Charles, the husband, is a high flying investor which means that the family can and do live very comfortably with premium class hybrid cars and a swanky house in the suburbs of New York, however one day it all goes horribly wrong and it is soon clear that darkness lies within - firstly the family pet is killed by "accident" and then Charlie is killed during a terrorist attack on a train on his way to work. Karen, the loving wife is devastated but pulls together for the sake of the two teenage children and looks to start to begin rebuilding her life, that is until she and her daughter receive serious threats about missing money but then to make matters worse, on the anniversary of Charles' death the very core of her world comes crashing down around her.
The principal characters are Karen Friedman and Detective Ty Hauck: Ty enters the story when a seemingly uncomplicated hit and run draws him into the dark world of undercover dealings and his investigation leads him to Charles Friedman (now deceased) and so ultimately Karen. Ty has issues of his own which make him feel a connection to Karen and the two of them eventually set out on a mission to uncover the truth. I do not feel that either of these characters were particularly strong and even though the author gave a description of their physical appearances, I found it really difficult to draw up an image of either of them in my minds eye, in fact that was the same for every single character in the book. Karen went from being a Yummy Mummy who lunches to a crime cracking feisty sleuth with unrealistic ease, but having said that, her plight was somewhat involving and I found this book hard to put down. Ty never really got my full attention - some of his actions were questionable and unrealistic, but I guess that this made for a more interesting storyline. The stereo typical pair baddies were also included in this novel along with their boss and a rather unnecessary sex scene made up all of the ingredients for a classic text book crime novel.
The book is divided up into one hundred and five chapters plus the epilogue which is a lot for 600 pages and I would generally find this annoying, but on this occasion, I found that it help to keep the book entertaining and readable however sometimes a paragraph change would have sufficed in my opinion. One thing that did bother me was the constant reference to names which I found unnecessary, and just flipping open the book randomly it is easy to find an example: "You don't have to remind me of the stakes, Ty", I think I've earned that trust, Karen", "This is my husband, Ty" and so on and it becomes worse as the book went on irritating me substantially come the end! I did find some of the financial terminology a little confusing (I can't believe that I am the only person in the world who does not know what a hedge fund is?) and at first I was concerned that it would detract from my understanding of the plotline, but in reality it did not matter and I could just skim over anything that I did not understand and I still followed the plot nicely. One thing that I did learn which has stayed with me is this: A million seconds would take about eleven and a half days, a billion seconds would take thirty one years - interesting little fact!
Even though there was absolutely nothing special about this book and from start to finish, it really is an absolute cliché and highly predictable, I really enjoyed it. I found it exceptionally easy to read and very hard to put down - I finished it in a couple of nights whereas it usually takes me a fortnight intermittently to finish a book. It is very much in the style of James Patterson in my opinion, and after a little research I found that Gross and Patterson had previously worked together as co-authors which makes perfect sense as their styles are incredibly similar. Patterson gives this book the accolade of "Tense and chilling" but I would have to disagree with this, I did not find it thrilling or full of suspense - the storyline flowed nicely but it would not take a genius to work out how it was going to end. Predictably so, come the end everything was wrapped up nicely which suits me fine. This is a perfect book to read if you want something that you don't really have to think about; there is nothing psychological happening here and it does not need to be over thought, but it is a cracking read that I would recommend.
I picked my copy up from the Library, but it is widely available in shops and on the internet (Amazon, new: £4.86, used: £0.01)
Published June 2008
Also published on Ciao under my username chilcott1