Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: One of Us by Tawni O'Dell

One of Us
By Tawni O’Dell
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: Aug. 19, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Back Roads comes a fast-paced literary thriller about a forensic psychologist forced to face his own demons after discovering his small hometown terrorized by a serial killer.

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.

In this masterfully told psychological thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the past and present collide to put Lost Creek’s long-lived ghosts to bed.

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My Thoughts:

Danny Doyle returns home to the small mining town where he grew up to check on his  grandfather who has just returned from the hospital after a bout of pneumonia. Upon his return home a body is discovered near the mine where 10 men were executed for inciting a rebellion. His great grandfather was one of those men.

The body found was the first victim of a serial killer and Doyle teams up with Detective Rafe to track the killer down. This leads them to uncover mysteries long hidden that turn Doyle’s world upside down.

One of Us was a mesmerizing psychological thriller that had me turning page after page late into the night. Told from two character’s points of view Danny Doyle and Scarlet Dawes, it gave two very different viewpoints. Danny was a very successful forensic psychologist, formerly from Lost Creek, now living in Philadelphia. Scarlet Dawes was the daughter of the mine’s owner, immensely wealthy, formerly from Lost Creek, presently living in Paris and recently come back to Lost Creek because of a letter she received from someone. Each narrates incidents from their past and from the present to weave the story into a whole.

One of Us touches on a number of different topic such as child abuse, mental illness, poverty, mining towns where the owners were able to keep the workers in debt to them by having the workers buy everything from the company store, and people’s belief in superstitions and the paranormal.

While we discover who the killer is part-way through the story, the question then becomes “How will they catch this person if they can’t prove it?” The perpetrator leaves almost no evidence that they can use for conviction. I found this book a most interesting book to read.

The pacing o One of Us was rapid. The flow was smooth. The characters were well developed. The dialogue between characters flowed smoothly and felt realistic and natural. There was a small amount of swearing in the book and a few references to intimate sexual conduct.

All in all, One of Us was an excellent read and I’d recommend  it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers. I rated this book 4 stars out of 5.

Thank you to the publishers via NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Tawni O'Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fragile Beasts, Sister Mine, Coal Run, and Back Roads, which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Tawni's screen adaptation of Back Roads is currently in development to be made into a film with Adrian Lyne set to direct. Her work has been translated into 15 languages and been published in over 30 countries.

Tawni was born and raised in the coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, the territory she writes about with such striking authenticity. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and spent many years living in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania where she now lives with her two children.

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