Out Soon! One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

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Title: One of Us
Author: Tawni O’Dell
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardcover, 304 pages
Published: August 19th 2014 by Gallery Books
Genre(s): Mystery; Thriller
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

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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.

One of Us is set in a small mining town which has a troubled background and a troubled present when a body is found at the gallows. The Gallows already represented the fears, superstitions and paranoias of the inhabitants of the tight-knit community, so it’s fair to say that when the news gets out, things go from strange to stranger.

I loved everything about this in theory. The setting, the strange history of the town and the clear divide between the rich and poor all had potential to make this a great story but unfortunately, I wasn’t completely won over.

For the most part One of Us is written from the perspective of Danny, a semi-famous forensic psychologist who left Lost Creek behind him a long time ago, but is back to check up on his grandfather Tommy.

I found it hard to warm to Danny. Sure, he’d had it pretty bad growing up with a mentally ill mother who killed his baby sister and buried her in the backyard (although she vehemently denies this). And yeah he managed overcome all that and make a success out of himself, but he was also quite cold and distant.

His relationship with both Tommy (his granddad), and Rafe (the detective on the case), should have softened him but he still felt too pristine and unflappable to me, with his fine suits and arrogance.

Things start to get interesting when all of a sudden the narration switches to that of Scarlet, who is even more emotionless than Danny, and described as a stunning fembot. From here, the story unravels and with it the towns secrets and lies slowly come to light.

I couldn’t fault the writing in One of Us. It flowed beautifully and kept a good pace, but it just wasn’t very exciting. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few twists, but the main one I guessed before the big reveal which ruined it a bit for me, and I just needed more GRIT.

This was the first book I’ve read by O’Dell and it certainly hasn’t put me off. I really liked the style and ideas but it didn’t quite pull it off.

unicorn rating 3

One of Us is available to pre-order from Waterstones now.

Keep Your Enemies Close…

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

weight The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

Reading The Weight of Blood felt like sitting on a swing-chair on a porch in the sticky night-time heat with Dragonfiles bashing against your lantern; kind of peaceful and beautiful but there’s this uncomfortable feeling rising to the surface, and you know where it’s coming from but if you just ignore it, it might go away. Obviously, it never goes away…

The Weight of blood is set in a small town with big secrets and a growing number of disappearing teenage girls. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and from two different periods of time. In the present Lucy is hell-bent on finding out what happened to her friend Cheri, a girl with learning-difficulties who was found dismembered in a tree, and also trying to discover what happened to her mum, Lila who vanished a year after she was born.

We also follow Lila as she first arrives in Henbane with the promise of a job and board from local business man, Crete Dane. It’s not long before Lila realises that all is not quite as it seems in this town.

McHugh really did a great job here in intertwining these two stories to create a compelling read. I wasn’t ferociously trying to find out who was behind it all, or on the edge of my seat as I was fed more pieces of the puzzle like I sometimes am when reading thrillers, but that’s not to say it wasn’t compelling.

The story unfolds at a gentle pace (and the plot continues to thicken all the way to the end) but I was never bored. There is something enchanting about her writing that makes it a joy to just float along for the ride. The style really reminded me of Alice Hoffman in that way.

I was a little disappointed that there were no major unexpected turns or twists, but as it was the writing and the characters were enough to keep me happy. The characterisation was great, with more than enough seedy, sinister ones to keep you guessing, and Lila and Lucy were both so likeable that it was hard to not get invested in their well-being.

I look forward to reading more by Laura McHugh.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an HONEST review,
Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Details: Hardcover, ebook, 320 pages
Published: March 11th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
My Rating: 4/5
You’ll like it if you liked: Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman