This suspense book lacked real suspense a lot of the time. The overwhelming source of tension throughout most of it was whether Alex’s wife would find out he’s lying to her since that’s something she can’t abide. That’s not enough for a suspense/thriller book. That’s far too simplistic.
Unfortunately one of the “surprises” that comes out in the last quarter of the book was easily predicted based on the author’s numerous obvious hints in the beginning (hardly hints, they kind of hit you over the head), so that was disappointing. But at least part of the ending was not totally predictable. It also wasn’t original.
One of the things heavily hampering this book was its poor character development. None of the characters are fleshed out. I think the many flashback sequences were supposed to accomplish that, but they didn’t because they portrayed everyone as perfect. There is no depth to perfect people. Alex’s wife is cardboard, and that’s a huge shame because she played an important role that would have been a lot stronger had she been fleshed out properly. Joe is perfect, and even by the end of the book he’s…perfect. So is the mother-in-law. So are the children (and they’re very much cardboard cutouts). Meh.
Frankly not much is truly at stake or all that interesting until about 70-75% into the book. Things pick up at that point, and we finally have the kind of tension and suspense that should have permeated the whole book. It took far too long to get there. I could easily put down the book in the middle of anything going on because it really wasn’t suspenseful. I’m glad things finally picked up in the last quarter of the book, but even then, everything is too easy. There are a lot of “it just so happens that this person was there to help” situations, and that makes it boring. Even the action scenes were too easy. I’ve waited all this time for a big climax, the climax had better be big! And it wasn’t.
And finally, the “dark secrets” promise in the book blurb are not dark. At all. Maybe if all you read is very light-hearted novels, but even so, they’re just not dark.
On the plus side, the author has a very straight-forward style of storytelling instead of wasting time on lots of irrelevant details, which is good. And like I said, there was finally some interest in the last quarter of the book. I didn’t hate it but didn’t enjoy it much either, which is why this is a 3-star rating.