5 stars out of 5
When my request for an advance review copy of this book from the publisher was granted, I was very excited even though I knew it's the second in a trilogy. Then, I had second thoughts about starting in the middle, got my hands on the first, Broken Promise, and gave it a 5-star rating. I knew I wouldn't be at a disadvantage when I opened this one, but I also tried to attack it with fresh eyes. Would it do well on its own?
The short answer is yes; the author does a more than respectable job of presenting enough background that everything in this one makes sense - especially important given the large number of characters in both books. The longer answer, though, is that I do recommend reading first things first; I have no doubt whatsoever that my enjoyment of this one was enhanced by knowing the people and events in that first book. The same will be true, I expect, with the third. And, in case anyone is interested, an 82-page novella titled Final Assignment was released Jan. 12 that also deals with the upstate New York town of Promise Falls. I'm passing on that, as I did with the first few chapters of the final book, The Twenty Three, which takes up the last 5% or so of this one (in the ebook version).
Cliffhangers, however, are a totally different animal. The first two books in the trilogy end with at least one biggie, so unless you plan to read the follow-up ((or just don't give a hoot whether you find out what happens after the one you just read), my advice is to be prepared to tackle them all.
This one begins as a set-for-demolition drive-in theater screen blows up a week early, crashing down on cars and the occupants. When the daughter of one of those killed asks local private eye Cal Weaver to investigate a break-in at her father's house, they are astounded to find a secret room that seems to have been the scene of, shall we say, adult activities. Also apparently, some of those activities were recorded, as evidenced by signs that DVDs are missing - presumably the object of the break-in.
At the same time, local Detective Barry Duckworth is continuing his work that began in Book One of solving the similar murders of two women (one recent and the other three years old) as well as the possible relevance of the number 23 that turns up in various crimes. When yet another murder happens, the investigations intensify - putting the lives of both Weaver and Duckworth in danger and, if they manage to escape that fate, leading them down paths that may twist together in a sinister fashion.
Call it another one well done - and if anyone is wondering, there's no question that I plan to read the last installment. There are just too many issues left to be resolved!
Far From True by Linwood Barclay (NAL/Penguin Group USA, March 2016); 480 pp.