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If it happens to your neighbours............ ..
Too Close to Home - Linwood Barclay
Member Name: pmcds
Too Close to Home - Linwood Barclay
Advantages: Great storytelling and magic
Disadvantages: Not quite the magic of his first book
Following the success of No Time For Goodbye, Linwood Barclay continued themes in this enjoyable thriller, Too Close To Home. I didn't find it as appealing a read as his previous novel, but this was maybe due to the similar style, whereas reading No Time For Goodbye presented me with a new style as well as a thrilling read.
Too Close To Home takes a very regular small town, regular families and regular everything, really, and flips everything upside down with a good old murder mystery. When the Cutters' neighbours, the Langleys, are murdered for no immediately obvious reason, they are immediately put on edge. When it turns out that the Cutters' son, Derek, was in the house at the time of the killings, it starts a rollercoaster of revelations about the family and those they know. It seems that everyone has at least one skeleton in the closet. Some have many........
What Barclay does well is keep the pace of the book at a very even level, while throwing something new at us every chapter. You get the feeling that you know the families already, as he portrays them as very regular people. Jim Cutter gives the narrative of the story, and telling it from his perspective works very well, especially when Derek is taken in by the police due to his involvement. The emotions this evokes from other characters, as well as reactions from people around the Cutters, are very dramatic, yet given to us as if they were run of the mill.
It's the relaxed and smooth pace of the book that wins me over, here. There's nothing special about it, just a very well designed plot told in a no nonsense fashion. There are no long winded or overly descriptive passages, as all of the explanations and back stories told are done in an appealing way, using dialogue wherever possible as if we were watching the whole thing unfold. It's the sort of story that is a screenplay writer's dream: nothing over complicated to have to worry about, it's virtually all done ready for TV. You can really visualise how it would work.
The other thing that's quite easy to visualise is the characters. Barclay gives a brief description of nearly every character, and manages to not make it repetitive. This helps to get a mental image of the main players and lets your imagination take hold while you're reading. This, coupled with the easy reading style Barclay has, makes the book hard to put down.
There are a few plot twists along the way, too, and while I was slightly disappointed with the outcome of No Time For Goodbye, this was a bit better. Characters pop up all the way through, coming in and out of the story, and you're never sure whether the next person mentioned is going to become a vital part or not. It certainly kept me on my toes and kept me guessing throughout as to the identity of whoever was behind the murders. The end of the book has a bit of a pick up in pace, which I felt rounded it off as a highly enjoyable read.
It's not overly long, coming at just over 450 pages long. The chapters come in regular breaks, allowing for regular stopping spots should you need them. I find it hard when books have 20 or 30 pages per chapter and I feel I need to get to the end, not wishing to stop reading right in the middle of a scene. Too Close To Home's chapters are just the right length.
Too Close To Home didn't hold quite the same magic for me as No Time For Goodbye did, but it's still a very good book, and one I highly recommend reading. Linwood Barclay's third stand alone novel, Fear The Worst, is about to hit our shelves in paperback, and Never Look Away is due out in hardback in the UK this autumn. I have become a solid fan of his after reading these two books, and will be eager to read more of his work. Recommended.
Summary: Excellent second novel from Linwood Barclay