The Twenty Three (Promise Falls #3) by Linwood Barclay ~ Suspenseful Multi-Layered Plot #Murder #Mystery

Author: Linwood Barclay

Published: September 2016 by Orion

Category: Murder, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Book Review

The day begins like any other Saturday – a shower, coffee, breakfast. But suddenly, all hell breaks loose in the town of Promise Falls. People are dying in the street – the hospital and emergency services are overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Is it mass food poisoning, a virus, or something more sinister? Has someone, rather than something, caused this?

The number 23 (among other strange things) keep cropping up in Promise Falls. Detective Barry Duckworth is conducting an ongoing investigation into the mysterious and deadly events, including two murders and an explosion at the drive-in movie theatre, when another catastrophe hits the town. On the 23rd of the month. Coincidence? Barry Duckworth doesn’t think so. 

The water supply is having devastating effects on the townsfolk, with huge numbers becoming violently ill and many dying. The crisis is causing a massive overburdening of the emergency services, stretching them up to and beyond their limits. 

Patricia’s symptoms—and there were more than a few—were not subsiding, and she did not believe, even in her increasing confused state, that she should wait around for some 911 dispatcher to get back to her.

As I’ve mentioned in reviews of the previous books, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, not to mention a multi layered plot, so I don’t think this would work particularly well as a standalone. Barry Duckworth, PI Cal Weaver and ex-journalist David Harwood are the main focus, although the story switches between several other perspectives as well. This time it’s the turn of Barry Duckworth to take the first person narrative. Cal and David have sub plots running alongside the main storyline. I particularly like Cal’s character. Ex mayor, Randal Finley, redeems himself somewhat as he seizes the opportunity to give out his bottled water, partly because he actually does want to help, but being Randall he can’t help but grab the chance of a PR exercise as well.

Barry Duckworth is under terrific stress, with health issues as well as trying to get to the bottom of the 23 conundrum plus the investigation into the murders which, when another occurs, confirm his suspicions that a serial killer is on the loose. 

I felt a wooziness that was not directly related to the stench in the room. I had seen this individual’s handiwork before. Once, in person, when I’d investigated the murder of Rosemary Gaynor. And a second time, when I had seen autopsy photos from the Olivia Fisher homicide.

Again, this is a plot driven narrative, with short chapters and snappy dialogue adding to the pace and suspense. Never a dull moment! I enjoyed this trilogy very much, it’s well written with realistic dialogue and some engaging, others not so much, characters. Most of story threads were resolved, and made sense, but there are a few loose ends. I know there’s another book set months after these events, so I’m looking forward to catching up with the people of Promise Falls. Those that are left anyway!

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Goodreads 

Linwood Barclay is a former columnist for The Toronto Star and the author of several critically acclaimed novels, including Too Close to Home and No Time for Goodbye, a #1 Sunday Times (UK) bestseller. He lives near Toronto with his wife.

Author links ~ Website | Twitter | Facebook 

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