Published by Simon and Schuster on August 19th 2014
Genres: Crime, Fiction, General, Suspense, Thrillers
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Dr. Sheridan Doyle—a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist—is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago. Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners' deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny—in pursuit of a killer—comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.
Great sounding synopsis, right? The biggest problem with this book is that it tries to do too much at once. Let’s lay it out:
- The long ago, possibly unjust execution of miners that the town is still obsessed with. I felt like this is a lazy device at best, something to propel some of the motion forward that could have been done with another device in a cleaner way.
- The town’s obsession with the gallows. Admittedly a good device for creating the atmosphere of the abandoned mining town – but again, so much time is spent on it it convolutes what the main narrative seems to be.
- The genealogy of who’s related to what ghost of which executed miner. NOT. CLEAR. AT. ALL. (…and totally extraneous)
- The genealogy of who’s related to the original mine bosses/who owns the gallows at what point who owns what. Yeah.
- Dr. Danny’s friendship with a death-row inmate. Other than an attempt to provide some commentary on the death penalty and giving Danny a reason to get the hell out of dodge for a moment, this part of the narrative seemed totally extraneous.
- The female to male transgender assistant. Being a little sensitive to how transgender folk are portrayed in literature, it doesn’t seem like O’Dell did much research on gender dysphoria. Without that research and an accurate portrayal the transgender aspect was completely unnecessary.
- The story/mystery of Danny’s father, mother, and dead sister. This could (should?) have been a novel in itself – it would have been a pretty good read!
- Rafe the detective. A bit of a mystery himself – but strong enough to tie back into the main narrative.