Firstly, I'm not sure what's going on with the image for this product (is it just me, or does everyone else see nail varnish? Maybe it's just been a long day..!).
I don't recall having read a Hurwitz novel, or having heard of him, before, but I was intrigued by the blurb and quotes on the cover. As a crime thriller lover, I seem to know what I like quite well now so I can be a little fussier than I used to be (for instance, I don't particularly like UK thrillers these days), meaning You're Next must have been pretty good because it's definitely one I'd recommend.
On the cover is a quote from Harlan Coben telling us that this is a 'pure stay up-all-night suspense'. Because I really enjoy Coben's novels, I was instantly taken by this and thought 'if it's good enough for him then it's good enough for me!'. The tag line on the cover reads 'The past isn't gone. It's just waiting', along with 'Every family has its secrets. His might just get them killed' on the back. This fits quite well in the crime thriller genre and was enough to convince me to give it a go, which I'm glad I did.
We're introduced to Mike Wingate, a successful family man and business man after working his way from construction worker to creator of a series of profitable eco homes he named 'Green Valley'. In toe with his wife Annabel and 8 year old daughter, Kat, they prepare for the launch of what looks to be a guaranteed success, and a large pay cheque at the end of it. The project is nearly complete and it's time for publicity, with Mike's face making the news. However, something hasn't gone quite right as Mike discovers the pipes under the homes aren't the material they should be, thus meaning the 'eco' friendliness claims are a lie, that they're not quite as loving to the environment as they should be. With the cost and time of replacing these going in to the millions of dollars, Mike swallows the discover and goes ahead with the publicity, with guilt eating at his conscience.
At the Green Valley launch party, a crippled stranger approaches Mike and seems to know more about him than is comfortable. It seems that there are two guys, this one included, by the names William and Dodge that aren't so friendly with Mike. A threat here and a threat there turns in to risky business as things start to spiral out of control. Why do these guys seem to have it in for Mike? Is it the eco homes, do they know about the pipes? Or is it something more, something about his past? He was abandoned by his father as a child, which Mike could never forgive him for, and he never did find out what really happened back them. He ended up in a foster home where he became close friends with Shep, and the two of them drew a lot of negative attention for their misdemeanours. But Mike turned things around, whereas Shep went on to cracking safes and robbery.
Mike calls in the help of a personal investigator, Hank, and also Shep, his old partner in crime, because the threat against himself has spread to a threat against his family. It's now a race against time to find out what these guys want and to keep his wife and daughter safe. It seems that he's up against a lot of muscle and that he can't trust anyone, even the police. Can he figure out what's going on and put things right before it's too late?
What I liked about this novel was how easy I found it to read because Hurwitz made it enjoyable to keep turning the pages. It was fluidly written with a style of writing that brought scenes and characters to life well enough that you could picture what was happening as you read. I liked getting to know Mike and learning about his past, and to see how this affected his current thoughts and behaviours when it came to protecting his family against the current threat. It felt like the characters had a story, a backbone, and this three dimensionality made it more interesting to read.
The atmosphere was also built quite well because of the colourful way in which characters were brought to life. I felt closer to characters and thus wanted to know what happened next, I wanted Mike to be okay and for the bad people to get their comeuppance. Hurwitz was able to blend together emotion and feelings with scenes of action and suspense well, keeping up a good pace and hooking my interest on what happening. Rather than an American cops-with-guns focus, this was more on the goings-on with the individuals involved, though police/FBI did come in to it, so it gave it a slightly murkier, down-to-earn feel.
The ending, and overall tie-up to the premise, was the only part I felt was a little disappointing. It was definitely a surprise, and one I couldn't have guessed at all from the start, or even half way through. I like that there were twists and turns and that I couldn't just guess what the grand finale would be, however it lacked a bit of believability. It's not to say it couldn't happen, it just seemed very unlikely, so I had to suspend my belief for a bit to appreciate where the plot was going. I wasn't left feeling disappointed by the end, however, as I felt like it was a novel worth reading, that captured my attention, and that I enjoyed for the characters and emotive style of writing.
Further praise on the back includes 'Outstanding in every way' - Lee Child, 'Uniquely believable and sympathetic' - James Patterson, and 'Thriller writing at its best' - Tess Gerritsen.
Overall, this is one I'd recommend and a new author to me that I'd suggest giving a go if you're a crime thriller fan or wanting something to absorb yourself in. Whilst I wasn't overly keen on the ending, it was nonetheless an enjoyable read with good character depth, making me want to keep turning the pages.
59 chapters over 436 pages (paperback)
A young four-year-old boy is dropped off by his father at an unfamiliar school playground one morning and told to go and play for a while and his father will return to pick him up. As morning turns to afternoon, the boy realises that he has been abandoned by his father and is eventually placed in foster care.
Growing up in foster care, Mike never learns why he was abandoned and because he was so young, he can remember very little about his time with his parents. All he remembers is the blood stain on his father's shirt cuff that morning when he dropped him off at the playground and grows up wondering if his father had actually murdered his mother. It is the only explanation that Mike can come up with.
Mike eventually marries and has a young daughter. Happily living the family life he was robbed of as a child, Mike is doing well as a property developer of eco-friendly homes and the future is looking perfect.
Until one evening at a party celebrating Mike's success, a stranger approaches him. Although a stranger to Mike, the man seems to know a lot about him and the past that Mike himself knows nothing about. Indeed the stranger's words "I know you, don't I?" are five words which suddenly turn Mike's world upside down and he soon finds both himself and his family in great danger.
What has Mike done? He has no idea what is going on, as overnight threats become attacks and Mike, his wife and young daughter realise they aren't safe anywhere. There is no time for Mike to try and figure it out because his enemies have killed before and it seems he is next.
I have previously read Gregg Hurwitz's other thrillers and enjoyed them, so I felt confident about reading this one and after reading the book I realised that this is my favourite thriller of his so far.
The book begins with four-year-old Mike being abandoned by his father, then the next chapter is the present day and Mike is now married to Annabel with an eight-year-old daughter, Kat. Flashbacks to his childhood and growing up in foster care are interspersed with chapters headed 'Then', with the present day chapters headed 'Now', however the flow of the storyline is not spoiled by this as it is all totally relevant and the story runs along smoothly.
I was gripped by the beginning of this book and from that point things gradually worsen for Mike and his family as the threats begin. Mike thinks someone was in his daughter's bedroom one evening, but is forced to dismiss it until further events show that maybe he wasn't wrong after all. And it doesn't stop there, as Mike begins to realise they are in great danger, but has no idea why. Hurwitz builds up the tension from the first page and I found it difficult to put down this book from the start. There are no long irrelevant descriptions or uneccessary information, just page-turning suspense and action from start to finish.
Frightened for his life and that of his wife and daughter's, Mike is forced to reach back into the dark side of his upbringing, calling in an old friend, Shep, from his foster home days. Shep is a brilliant character and one I would like to see again perhaps in another book. There to help and protect his old friend, Shep and Mike have been through a lot in their past and Shep will never forget what Mike did for him when they were younger. He doesn't say much, but I found his character very enjoyable as a formidable but loyal person whose actions often speak louder than words.
As the story unfolds we learn more about Mike as he learns about himself and this is one of the things which made the book so enjoyable, as you feel you are on a rollercoaster ride alongside Mike as he tries to avoid being killed, whilst attempting to find out the reason why he is a hunted man. He also calls upon Hank, a private investigator who has previously tried to help Mike find out about his past. Hank tries to help, but quickly ascertains that not even the police will assist Mike as an alert has been put out on him from a higher lever for more information about his past.
The reasons for Mike being hunted down don't really start to become apparent until the final third of the book and even then it is not clear cut and there are a couple of twists before the end, which meant that the suspense was maintained. The action slows towards the end of the book, but by this time you are wanting revelations and answers so whilst the plot may slow down, the readability remains as interesting and I was not disappointed by the ending which was quite poignant.
With 'You're Next' Gregg Hurwitz has written his best thriller yet in my opinion. Usually in his other books I have read there has been a main male character up against some great danger, but with the family aspect added to this one, it actually made this book even more enjoyable for me than his previous ones.
'You're Next' has all the components necessary for a great thriller: page-turning tense action, plenty of suspense, an elaborate cover-up and a main character who has no idea what's going on.
Good thrillers don't get much better than this.