Author: Gregg Hurwitz
Length: 371 pages
Plot Basics: Daniel Brasher, son of old-moneyed San Francisco resident Evelyn Brasher, has walked away from his family inheritance, spending his days working as a group therapy counselor for offenders and is happily married to a community organizer. When Daniel finds a note in his mailbox at work saying “Admit what you’ve done” Daniel finds himself drawn into the world of killer, racing against deadlines to try to prevent more deaths, even as he tries to understand what wrongs have been committed.
Banter Points: What I noticed was the way Hurwitz employed the “gun on the mantle” philosophy in his writing. To review, that’s an idea from Chekhov, that if there’s a gun on the mantle in the first act, it needs to go off in the third act. Hurwitz didn’t waste details. For example, there’s a scene early on when Daniel’s wife puts lotion on her hands and then has trouble turning a door knob. Of course, that happens again in a scene where getting away is more critical. Daniel’s a runner, so when he needs to run after a suspect, he’s able to keep up.
Bummer Points: There’s nothing wrong with this book, other than about three chapters from the killer’s perspective which don’t add anything. (I’d really like to know why this keeps happening. Do editors ask for them? Am I going to have to swallow all my distaste for them and add in chapters from my villain’s POV
The problem here is me. I’ve realized I’m kind of done (at least for now) with mystery/thrillers that involve regular people. The plot stacks up — there’s a good reason for what happens to Daniel and he as a regular guy gets sucked in to a killer’s plot. But, I’ve realized I prefer my mysteries to have some kind of figure in them who is suited for this kind of thing. For example, Reacher’s an ex-Army MP. Jason Bourne’s a trained CIA agent. David Trevellyan is British Intelligence. Milan Jacovich is an ex-cop turned PI. Even Harry Dresden has a set of skills (wizarding and having a PI license) that gives him some expertise for handling the stuff he gets put into.
I think what I want is for “normal” people to be able to live “normal” lives. There will be exceptions when books like “Gone Girl” come along (thought there’s littler that’s normal about those characters). But, expect to see mostly procedural/espionage type thrillers in my reading list.
Word Nerd Recommendation: It’s a good book that’s executed well. It just wasn’t the kind of story I wanted to read right now. Or for a good long while into the future.