Linwood Barclay books are fun reads! He has now written seven books set in the fictional upstate New York town of Promise Falls. (The first five, in order of publication, are Too Close to Home, Fear the Worst, Never Look Away, Trust Your Eyes, and A Tap on the Window. Broken Promise and this latest title (Far From True) are the first two books of what is his “Promise Falls Trilogy.” BTW, if you have not read Barclay before, start with one of his standalone novels, and read the trilogy when the 3rd book comes out (likely in about a year) – otherwise, if you are like me, you will have forgotten some of the backstory and key players.
This latest title begins with a freak accident at the local drive-in theater, which is slated to close soon. Before the closing, there is an explosion during a movie, the screen collapses, and several cars close to the screen are destroyed (along with the people inside). Fears of terrorism arise quickly, and everyone in town seems to be going crazy, except for Detective Barry Duckworth. Weirdly, there are several apparent pranks happening, that involved the number 23, and some are downright lethal. Lots of stuff goes on, none of which I can relate without spoiling something for someone…
Barclay is great at developing likable characters, and Far From True starts right in where the cliffhanger ending of the prior novel, Broken Promise, left off. The six titles Barclay has written that are set in or around Promise Falls don’t necessarily always involve the same characters, but some do repeat! While this is part of a trilogy, Barclay has also written standalone novels set in Promise Falls, and some of the characters from other titles show up here: Barry Duckworth, as noted above; the slimy ex-mayor, Randall Finley; Cal Weaver from A Tap on the Window; and David Harwood from Never Look Away and Broken Promise; and Derek Cutter from Too Close to Home.
Because we know this is the second in a trilogy, don’t expect everything to be neatly resolved!! As was true in Broken Promise, the first title in the series, one major case gets solved in this book, but another one carries over. So, as noted above, best to read the Promise Falls books in order, and I highly recommend waiting to read them when the trilogy is complete. (Although I am perfectly happy to admit my memory is worse than most people, so you may do well reading this one and then happily going on about your life until a year from now, when book #3 comes out, and you will totally remember the people, their relationships, history, etc. That just isn’t me!)
I was very happy to get an advance copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I have been a huge Barclay fan, and blocked out uninterrupted time for this one, expecting one of those “please-don’t-bother-me-I-cannot-put-this-book-down” reading experiences…but I found this one less irresistible than others he has written. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story, the characters, and the twists that I didn’t see coming (but then, I usually don’t J).
So, if you are a Barclay fan, enjoy your return to Promise Falls. If you are new to this author, I recommend him with the caveat above about the time lapse between pieces of the trilogy. I will be happy when #3 comes out, but will likely need a refresher to fully appreciate it. (Disclosure: I re-read Broken Promise to get up to speed on the people and places in PF for this one. I found when I started it that it was apparent that there were things I was sort of expected to know, but I was clueless: that was all taken care of by re-reading book #1 in the trilogy.
Four stars. If I could give ½ stars, it would be 4.5!