Crypto currency? Sudden death? And, dare I say it, a novel that is probably firmly in the thriller genre? Those who follow my reviews know that this is a book I would normally give a rapid swerve to. It is not something I would usually pick up, even with the most enticing of covers. However, and disclaimer here, I happen to know the author. And I received an early copy of the book in exchange for a fair review. And much to my surprise, as I begin to write my review, I have to begin with a confession that I did end up enjoying the book, for the most part. However, I do have one major issue with the book, which I will come to later.
First of all, I will cover the merits of the book. It is rather fast paced, with a central character, Jess, who for the most part, is one that the reader can feel a great deal of empathy for, while at the same time, enough of her is kept hidden to make her interesting and perhaps, a little unreliable. So… we have an intriguing and somewhat mysterious protagonist, with a troubled past that is kept hidden from the reader. The book begins with her marriage, her honeymoon and the death of her new husband, all in rapid-fire succession so that page turning becomes quite easy. The alternative point of view that the reader is given is that of her new husband’s best friend, whose involvement in the crypto-currency game is somewhat shadowy.
The writing is good, the author never letting the reader know which one of the characters to trust, and the underlying story is compelling. The author has clearly done her research and has helpfully provided a glossary at the end to explain some of the more bewildering words used in the world of bitcoin. I wish I had known it was there as I was reading, but my lack of knowledge did not really interfere with the narrative.
There is a twist in the tail of the story, and I did predict it, and I am not going to spoil it by discussing it here. But it was foreshadowed sufficiently so that it was pleasing, rather than frustrating, to have my suspicions concerned.
My only frustration with the book is the use of gratuitous and unnecessary violence against women as it appears in one plot development in the book. In my view, it was entirely superfluous, overly graphic, and could have been left out entirely without jeopardising the integrity of the book as a whole, the development of the narrative arc, or what the reader would understand about the characters it concerned. Had I not known the author, that one act of violence would have caused me to immediately put the book down and stop reading. I understand that violence against women occurs. I understand that it can be dealt with within the narrative of a book, but in this instance, it was not needed. The same effect could have been achieved without such a graphic depiction of cruel brutality against a minor character.
That one issue aside, the book as whole was enjoyable. Has it made me a convert to that genre of book? No. But I was pleased to be provided with an advance copy, and I was pleased to be able to provide a mostly positive review for a writer that I know, respect and admire.