by Linwood Barclay
After his wife’s death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can’t find a way to stop his descent.
Then he comes across a family secret of epic proportions. A year after a devastating miscarriage, David’s cousin Marla has continued to struggle. But when David’s mother asks him to check on her, he’s horrified to discover that she’s been secretly raising a child who is not her own—a baby she claims was a gift from an “angel” left on her porch.
When the baby’s real mother is found murdered, David can’t help wanting to piece together what happened—even if it means proving his own cousin’s guilt. But as he uncovers each piece of evidence, David realizes that Marla’s mysterious child is just the tip of the iceberg.
Other strange things are happening. Animals are found ritually slaughtered. An ominous abandoned Ferris wheel seems to stand as a warning that something dark has infected Promise Falls. And someone has decided that the entire town must pay for the sins of its past…in blood.
David Harwood is an out of work journalist, living with his parents and his young son. On an errand to his cousin’s, he finds her with a young baby that is not her own. Marla’s own child died at birth and she has not been able to move on; she has history of taking someone else’s child.
David sets about returning the child to his mother, but she is found stabbed to death. David finds himself at the centre of the investigation, not believing that his cousin, Marla, could be responsible.
This book is awash with characters. There are multitudes. With the main plot and the various sub-plots, there is just no time for any character development, except for David who tells his story in the first person. He is the only one that I had any emotional connection with.
The book races along at a good pace, and at no time did I think that I wasn’t going to finish it. But there are no surprises in the main plot and I was more drawn to the complexities of the sub-plots. However the ending beggars belief. At no time was I made aware that this was the first part of a trilogy, and thus nothing apart from the main plot is tied up. If you can wait up to 2 years for your crime thrillers to be concluded then good luck to you: this is the book for you. As far as I’m concerned Broken Promise refers to more than the book’s title.
I will give the book two and half stars for its readability, but it should be made crystal clear that this book is book 1 of a trilogy.
Many thanks to the publisher Orion Books for sending me a proof copy via Netgalley.