Monday, 20 March 2017

Book Review: FOLLOW ME DOWN by Sherri Smith


Follow Me Down



Author: Sherri Smith
Publisher:
Forge Books
Read:
March 2017
Expected publication: 21 March 2017



Synopsis (Goodreads):

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.


My thoughts:


I love it when I accidentally stumble across a book that is exactly the type of taut and atmospheric thriller I enjoy reading – and from an author I had  previously not discovered, which hints at many more reading pleasures yet to come (please keep writing, Sherri Smith!).

Mia and Lucas Haas had a tough childhood growing up with an alcoholic mother, Mimi, who despite the siblings’ pleas has never revealed the identity of their father. After an accident that left Mimi brain damaged and living in an assisted care facility, the siblings were propelled into an early adulthood with responsibilities far beyond their years. Whilst Mia has made her life far from home, working as a pharmacist in the city, Lucas has returned to their hometown in North Dakota, teaching English at the local high school and shouldering the responsibility of visiting Mimi regularly. Whilst the twins are still close, the geographical distance means that they don’t get to see each other very often. When Mia receives a phone call from the police informing her that Lucas is missing, suspected of having murdered one of his teenage students, Mia is horrified. It is impossible that her brother, one of the town’s battlers made good against all odds, who manages to charm everyone with his good looks and gentle nature, is capable of such an act of violence. And yet there are many witnesses who claim to have seen Lucas and the dead girl together, and Lucas is nowhere to be found to defend himself. As Mia investigates some of the rumours going around town, she becomes increasingly afraid not only for her brother’s reputation, but also for his safety.

“His need to be known as a good guy was almost pathological. We were the approval seeking byproduct of our histrionic alcoholic mother; we just went about it differently. I cared less about being likeable than being considered impressive, whereas Lucas really wanted to be liked, the guy everyone wanted around, and that was who he’s always been. Unless. Unless he’s dead too.”

But since the police are convinced that he is guilty, they refuse to take her seriously. To clear her brother’s name, Mia has no choice than to start her own investigation. Even when it may put her own life in danger ....

Follow Me Down offers everything a good thriller should: featuring a gutsy, if flawed, main protagonist who takes on the role as sleuth, slowly and methodically unveiling layer after layer of secrets and scandal to finally reveal all in an explosive, action-packed and totally unexpected finale. I hungrily devoured page after page until late into the night, only reluctantly putting the book aside from sheer exhaustion and the knowledge that I had to look semi-alive at work the next day.

Mia is a wonderful protagonist. Whilst flawed (or maybe because of it), she is the type of gutsy female that drives a storyline and makes you fear for her as she faces one obstacle after another, not cowed by the town folk’s hostility or the danger she is putting herself in. And of course there is the guilt and doubt she lives with on a daily basis, which gives her the kind of dry humour and no-nonsense outlook on life I find refreshing. It made a welcome change from what seems to be a current trend in crime fiction, of presenting feeble confused females as unreliable narrators (which works well sometimes, but can be very irritating if not done correctly). Mia was relatable, from her loyalty and love for her twin against all odds, and her brave perseverance in the face of adversity and hostility from the people she has grown up with. By endowing her with a dysfunctional parent and a traumatic childhood, Mia’s background provides an interesting and three-dimensional base on which her whole character is built – warts and all.

Well done to Sherri Smith for tackling a completely new genre with such finesse! Follow Me Down is a taut, compelling and well-constructed thriller that kept me totally enthralled until the very last page. I recommend it highly and will be looking out for more books from this talented author in future.


Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 


Quotes:

The past was crammed down your throat everywhere you turned here; you could never escape it.

I really, really wanted her to be fat – like, had-to-rent-a-crane-to-be-removed-from-her-house fat – and was truly disappointed that she wasn’t.

That’s the thing with siblings – you never stop seeing the children you once were floating beneath your grown-up faces.



Image result for 4.5 stars

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