Published by MIRA on February 2nd 2016
Genres: adult, mystery-thriller
Buy on Amazon
A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband's family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf
Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.
Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.
I always feel really bad when I don’t like a book, even to this day. And I feel even worse when it’s a book that isn’t in my genre. I’ve been reading more thrillers lately, but I still don’t seek them out unless they really grab me. Why did I decide to read Missing Pieces? Well, it was sent to me for review. I don’t think I would have picked it out otherwise, and as my first experience with this author’s work, I was not impressed.
This book is just lazy. Like I mentioned before, I’ve read a lot of thrillers–more in the past than recently, but I am an active reader of young adult thrillers anyway, so I know what the nuts and bolts should be. Red herrings, foreshadowing, twists, suspense–and this book fell flat on all of them.
Sarah and her husband Jack, return to Jack’s hometown in Iowa because is beloved aunt has fallen down the stairs and is in a coma in the hospital. As soon as they get there, things start to unravel. Maybe Julia’s fall was not an accident after all. And when Sarah starts to find out the truth about Jack’s past, she starts to snoop and solve the mystery.
Before I start complaining, you should know that the storytelling itself wasn’t horrible. The ending is predictable, and the antagonist is obvious, but the story arc was done fairly well. About average, I might say. It was the character development, lazy writing/editing, and just general unoriginality of the book that I had a problem with.
Character development? There was none. These were some of the flattest characters I have read about in a while. They had no personality, no depth, nothing. Sarah and Jack, as husband and wife, had absolutely no relationship, no chemistry, and definitely no trust. Why the hell you would stay married to someone like that, I can’t figure out. And for someone who was an investigative reporter in Afghanistan and other countries, she sure is stupid to the clues that are right in front of her face. How many creepy emails do you need to get before you do anything about it? Many, if you are Sarah.
The other thing I had an issue with was the poor editing. The second half of the book was much better than the first, but there were many inconsistencies in the writing, and this was aside from the grammatical errors. Sarah would observe something, and then observe it again a few paragraphs or pages later. I found an example of this on page 131. The sheriff says that Amy is not arrested and she can leave at any time. Then Sarah goes down to see Amy who is waiting for her in an interrogation room, and Sarah prepares to talk to Amy on a phone through a plexiglass wall. Well, Sarah, that would only happen if she was arrested, but you are supposed to know that she is clearly not since you were present when the sheriff told you so. A lot of this was going on in the first half of the book. It was as if it was not properly copy edited. Rushed. Even towards the end, there was an editing inconsistency with the rat poison. To have these mistakes in a traditionally published novel is just unacceptable.
And that’s the other thing I must mention. I was just hoping for so much more from such an acclaimed author. This book almost feels pumped out. Like the author and editors didn’t take their time with it, didn’t try to make it the best it could be. It gets that way with prominent authors sometimes. The quality begins to drop. Maybe this author’s earlier books are better, I don’t know. But I won’t be rushing out to get them.
I don’t recommend this one, unfortunately. It was going somewhere with the storytelling, but the rest of it is terrible. And if you are looking for a traditional whodunit mystery, there are wayyyy better ones out there than this.