5 stars out of 5
For quite some time, I've been meaning to read something by this author, whose books tend to get rave reviews. So when I had the chance to request an advance copy of Barclay's Far From True from the publisher, I jumped at it and, to my delight, was approved. But then, I realized that book is the second in the Promise Falls Trilogy (at this writing, it's scheduled for release on March 8, 2016. Not wanting to be at a disadvantage by reading them out of order, I quickly got my hands on a copy of this, the first.
And now that I've finished it, all I can say is, Wow! It's one of the best books I've read in a while - very hard to put down.
I should point out, though, that the book got very mixed reviews from die-hard Barclay fans; among other things, some noted that there are a number of characters and subplots that can be a little hard to keep track of. But in my mind, everything serves as a foundation for the next book. To that end, not all the stories are resolved here - the ending is a real cliffhanger - and in that sense, this one probably should be read with an eye to continuing with the trilogy. I knew that going in, and - since there's no question that I loved this one - the next installment already is loaded on my Kindle and I'm itching to get started.
The story begins as David Harwood and his young son have moved back to his childhood home of Promise Falls, New York, mostly so David can get a more laid-back job with the local newspaper and have more time to spend with his son. Within days, the newspaper folds - and David is forced to move in with his aging parents with no hope of getting a decent paying job in the foreseeable future. Then, he discovers his cousin Marla - who hasn't recovered from losing a daughter in childbirth - taking care of a baby boy she believes is hers. He was, she insists, delivered to her porch by an "angel" - and she's not about to give him up.
Shortly thereafter, the real mother is found murdered in her home, and former reporter David begins to investigate. Meanwhile, other strange things are happening in the town: dead squirrels are lined up on a fence, an abandoned amusement park Ferris wheel gets three unusual riders and a rapist is wreaking havoc on the local college campus. Are all these things connected, and if so, how? Could David's cousin have murdered the baby's mother? And what possible message could those strung-out rodents be sending?
If you want to find out, don't hesitate to tackle this one. Did I mention it's really, really good?
Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay (NAL/Penguin Group USA, July 2015); 512 pp.