Thursday, 8 June 2017

What You Don't Know by JoAnn Chaney

Book Review

What You Don't Know by JoAnn Chaney - Reading, Writing, Booking Blog

"Seever was like the chorus of a terrible song, set on infinite replay. He was the awful taste caught in the back of your mouth, the one that can't be rinsed away. The bloodstain in the carpet that won't ever come out."

What You Don't Know was released in the UK on 9th February 2017. It is written by JoAnn Chaney and published by Pan MacMillan.

This book has a new way of looking at a serial killer thriller; focusing on the aftermath and how the people caught up in the investigation cope years later. Of course, more murders then start that seem to be linked with the previous killings. Points for originality and the story is good in What You Don't Know but the writing lets it down and there's a general trying to hard feel to the whole thing.

JoAnn Chaney's dark debut, What You Don't Know, tells the story of the three victims the murderer didn't kill but whose lives he ruined all the same . . . A crime like this isn't only about the killer. There are others to consider . . . Seven years ago, Detective Paul Hoskins and his larger-than-life partner solved one of the biggest serial killer cases of the decade. They dug up 31 bodies in a crawlspace belonging to the beloved Jacky Seever, a pillar of the community and a successful businessman. Sammie Peterson was the lead reporter on the case. Her byline was on the front page of the newspaper every day. Seever's wife, Gloria, claimed to be as surprised as everyone else. But when you get that close to a killer, can you really just move on? Today, Hoskins has been banished to the basement of the police station, Sammie is selling make-up at the shopping mall, and Gloria is trying to navigate a world where she can't escape condemnation. Then a series of copycat killings take place, with the victims all connected to Seever. While Gloria is determined not to be forced into the spotlight again, Hoskins and Sammie see a chance to get their lives back. But it could mean forfeiting their humanity in the process . . . It isn't over. It'll never be over.

I didn't particularly like Chaney's writing style; there were flashes of brilliance but it reads like it's trying too hard to be dark and imbue the characters with grit and flaws. But it's already a dark read, it doesn't need more added with questionable dialogue and inner thoughts.

What You Don't Know is written mainly in the present tense which drives me nuts. Sometimes it works as a stream of consciousness sort of thing but it's unnecessary in this book and just makes every sentence jar. Plus, it jumps around in time a lot, not just to look back at the previous murders but within paragraphs and there's a lot of repetition. Really it needs to be edited well.

The characters are interesting, none of them are particularly likable but that adds to the story. I liked Gloria, the serial killer's wife, and Hoskins, the lead investigator tormented with rage, they were well drawn. A few fell flat, like the journalist's husband and Loren, who is supposed to be an off the wall detective but again tries too hard and doesn't hit the mark.

Jacky Seever is the best character, Chaney does well creating a truly creepy serial killer. Obviously based on John Wayne Gacy, the respected pillar of the community who loves to be the center of attention is a convincing if very disturbing killer.

The story in itself flows well until the very end where I feel its a bit rushed and the reveal is a let down and something I guessed. But the journey itself is fun. Just suspend belief and try and ignore some questionable writing and this is a twisty read that's ideal for binge reading in one setting.

My rating: 2.5/5 (rounded up to 3 for NetGalley and Goodreads)

I received a copy of What You Don't Know via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

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