Book review: Far from True by Linwood Barclay

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 Permalink

I really enjoyed Linwood Barclay’s first Promise Falls novel, Broken Promise. I loved the protagonist David Harwood and the myriad of players Barclay introduced.

There were a lot of them, as I mentioned in that review, but that was okay as obviously Barclay was setting the scene for future books in the series. The inclusion of a crime which wasn’t ‘quite’ solved in the first series also made way for an overarching and continuing story arc.

Far From True, is the second instalment in the Promise Falls series.

Book review: Far from True by Linwood BarclayFar From True
by Linwood Barclay
Series: Promise Falls #2
Published by NAL
on March 8th 2016
Source: NetGalley, Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 0451472705, 1409146499
Pages: 480

After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a recent break-in at her father’s house. Cal discovers a hidden basement room where it’s clear that salacious activities have taken place—as well as evidence of missing DVDs.

But his investigation soon becomes more complicated when he realizes it may not be discs the thief was actually interested in....

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders—one of which is three years old—he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound.

As the lies begin to unravel, Cal is headed straight into the heart of a dark secret as his search uncovers more startling truths about Promise Falls. And when yet another murder happens, Cal and Barry are both driven to pursue their investigations, no matter where they lead.

Evil deeds long thought buried are about to haunt the residents of this town—as the sins of the past and present collide with terrifying results.

My Goodreads feed offers a bit of an indication of how I felt as I started reading this book.

Screen shot 2016-03-21 at 1.42.21 PM

Fully expecting David, his love interest Samantha (Sam), Sheriff Duckworth and David’s dodgy boss (and mayoral hopeful) Randall Finley, to feature strongly… I was befuddled by the present of Cal – a cop-turned PI and damsel in distress Lucy.

Were they in the first novel, I wondered? Did I not remember them?

It took me some time to realise that David wasn’t going to be the main character in all of this series, but rather (akin to Karen Rose’s work – and that of others) the focus was going to switch with each novel.

So David – who I so enjoyed meeting in Broken Promise – spends most of his time dealing with the sociopathic family of Sam’s ex-husband and getting his boss Randall out of inevitable scrapes. The family secret (involving David’s dad) touched on in the first novel, is not progressed at all this time around. It could just be me, but I found it a tad frustrating to be sent down a rabbit hole and then left hanging.

The book kicks off with a bomb at the local drive-in, resulting in the death of four people, including Lucy’s father. She’s at his house just after his death when she surprises an intruder – requiring her to call on Cal’s services.

In the first novel, the attacks on young women and the murder of a young mother (and abduction of her child) were the focus… but set against a background of something more menacing. This time around the focus is on Lucy’s father, his friends and their secrets, but the Sheriff is kept busy realising – finally – that the drive-in bombing was the work of a darker presence, introduced in Broken Promise (with the distinctive reference to  the number: 23).

I eventually settled into this novel and was ultimately fascinated; but didn’t enjoy it as much as the first (which I adored). I liked Cal and Lucy (and her complicated daughter) and warmed more this time around to Sheriff Duckworth (and even Randall – as we were given a glimpse of his home life) but there was something lacking in terms of the synchronicity of the plot. Again – those damned threads not quite coming together. Yet.

I think this would be a difficult read if you haven’t read the first in the series. Although (having said that)… Barclay does offer a recap of the crimes from #1 and (in reality) much of the first novel is now irrelevant. I note this is to be a trilogy so I’m hoping the third in the series reins in the multiple threads and brings everything together without leaving too many questions. And I hope I don’t have to wait too bloody long!

Far from True by Linwood Barclay was published by Berkley (NAL) Publishing Group and in Australia by Hachette.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/s for review purposes.

  • Tea Time with Marce
    March 23, 2016

    I haven’t read LBarclay in awhile but did enjoy his first couple of books. I really enjoyed your reading rants in Goodreads, hahahahaha. I just finished book 4 in a series and my rant is mainly that I can’t remember a lot due to it being 4 years and it seemed like it has changed. And this is the main reason I love my crime. suspense etc to be stand alone Deb.

    • Debbish
      March 23, 2016

      I’m usually okay with a series if I’m a regular but – it was interesting that the thing I loved in the first one (the diverse characters) was the same thing I struggled with in the second!

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    March 23, 2016

    I do want to read this author but it does drive me crazy when there are bunches of characters to remember – especially if it’s been a little while in between books. It’s good to know ahead of time that the focus will shift with each book as I imagine that could be super confusing.

    • Debbish
      March 23, 2016

      True Katherine. I started off on the wrong foot as I expected David again to be the centre of this book. I’ve actually got a hard copy of the first book (and now the second) so will re-read both before the third comes out – I assume later this year or early next year. They’re good books – indeed, the first one was great… very much because of the characters – but I did get a little lost for a while there.

  • Jess
    March 23, 2016

    Interesting sounds like I definitely need to give the first one a go. I need a new series to read!

    • Debbish
      March 23, 2016

      These will keep you busy for a while Jess!

  • Karen B (@KissinBlueKaren)
    March 23, 2016

    Oh no! I hate when a follow up book is not as good. Sorry to hear you didn’t like this as much. Hopefully the next book will be better. I am not much into detective stories, so I will just skip this book. Thanks for reviewing!

    • Debbish
      March 24, 2016

      Ironically Karen I wonder if I would have liked this more if I hadn’t LOVED the first book so much – as my expectations were v.much raised!

  • Jeann @ Happy Indulgence
    March 25, 2016

    My friend loves Linwood Barclay novels, so it’s great to read a review of one of his books. It definitely sounds tense and thrilling! Great review Debbish.

    • Debbish
      March 26, 2016

      Thanks Jeann. I’m a big fan of Barclay’s as well!

  • rod hodkinson
    June 17, 2016

    Not releasing that this was a second book in a trilogy I was totally confused when it ended like it did!
    I don’t remember when I downloaded this book that was explained? So I had to search and found you Deb.
    Thank you for explaining what was happening.
    I must say to be honest I never connected the two novels at all as I read so many books and it’s quite a while since I read Promise Falls. I did recognise David Harwoods character but none of the earlier plot!
    Must be the books are too far apart for me at least.

    • Debbish
      June 17, 2016

      I’m glad I could help Rod. You would have noted I was a little disappointed in this second book given that I loved the first so much… but hopefully the third wraps things up a little!


  • Linda
    July 2, 2016

    As a huge Lineood Barclay fan, I’ve read almost all if his previous books. Cal Weaver is from a previous book as is Derek Cutter. It seems that Barclay intertwines all of his chatacters. I look forward to reading the third book in this trilogy as welk as future ones to come.

    • Debbish
      July 2, 2016

      I’ve actually recently requested an advance copy of the third in this series and am looking forward to it. I wonder ‘who’ will be the (lead) protagonist… or perhaps it’ll feature everyone we’ve met.

  • savannah8448
    July 17, 2016

    Just finished Far from True (and hey, what’s with that title! ) and I agree with you 100%!
    Did you ever read Lindsay Davis? Very cute series featuring a Roman detective….. He had a Dramatis Personae in the front of every book. A big help! (And funny too.)

    I strongly urge all series writers to follow suit!

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