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Bookends: The Many Mysteries of Promise Falls December 28, 2018

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, mystery, thriller.
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Bookends: The Many Mysteries of Promise Falls

By Dan Davidson

January 24, 2018

– 736 words –

 

 

Broken Promise

Broken Promise

By Linwood Barclay

512 pages

Doubleday paperback

Kindle edition

$9.99

 

Far From True

Far from True

By Linwood Barclay

 

480 pages

Doubleday paperback

Kindle edition

$9.99

 

The Twenty-Three

By Linwood BarclayThe Twenty-Three

464 pages

Doubleday paperback

Kindle edition

$9.99

 

Having read all of these, one after the other (because I really wanted to know what the heck was going on) I think I have to warn you to have all three on hand or on your e-book reader of choice before you begin the first one. The Promise Falls Trilogy, as it is being called, is probably best described as one long novel.

I want to talk first about the narrative style, which is interesting. Each book is a blend of first and third person narratives, with each book choosing a different first person narrator along with numerous third person points of view (POV).

The chief protagonists are, in order through the books: David Harwood, an out of work reporter; Cal Weaver, a small time private investigator; and Barry Duckworth, a detective with the local police force. We see them through their own eyes, and also through the eyes of each other and those of several other third person viewpoints that weave through the three books.

Each book also begins with a statement from the person behind most – but not all – of the bad things that are happening in the town. Each is a teaser: “I hate this town.”; “They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”; “I know I won’t be able to get them all. But I hope I’ll be able to get enough.”

It’s clear from the very start that whoever is thinking those words believes he has some kind of vengeance owed to him or her, but just what that might be about, and who she or he might be, is hidden until very near the end. There are lots of red herrings, though.

Davis Harwood’s personal mystery begins when he discovers that his emotionally challenged sister (still suffering from a miscarriage) is suddenly in possession of a year old baby she claims to have received from an angel. When the real mother is found murdered, David, who has been forced to take a job as campaign manager for the former mayor of the town, a man he despises, has the task of finding out what has really happened.

Barry Duckworth has been plagued by this same disgraced politico, but he has to admit that whoever killed 23 small animals and hung them from a fence does seem to be sending some kind of a message. There are a couple of murders that also seem to have the number 23 connected to them. He has the niggling feeling that something is going on, but when we first meet him he seems almost more concerned with the need to stay away from donuts. In the first two books we are nearly tempted to write him off, but he improves over time.

Cal Weaver is marginally involved in the first book, but becomes the first person narrator after the opening sequence in book two. This is when someone blows up the support beams at the drive-in theatre on its very last night of operation, killing two people and injuring others when the heavy screen collapses on the cars in the very front row. By date and time of day, this too has a 23 connection, but Weaver doesn’t know about that until later.

The climax comes in the final book, on Memorial Day, which I have to tell you is May 23, because why would Canadian readers know that. Suddenly scores of people are stricken with a strange malady resulting In vomiting, dizziness, loss of consciousness, and eventual death. The hospital is swamped and no one can figure out why. This is Duckworth’s turn as narrator, though the other two still have their third person POV chapters.

Each book is part of the larger 23 plot, which eventually gets resolved, but each also has one or more mysteries of its own, which are dealt with in that book and focus more specifically on either Harwood, Weaver or Duckworth.

Barclay has apparently decided that he likes these characters, and this setting, and has returned to use Cal Weaver in two stand-alone mysteries. Harwood has also been used in a book that predates this trilogy. That’s not surprising, as Barclay has created several series in the past, including the lighter and more humorous Zack Walker novels, and two about the Archer family.

 

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