Top critical review
Great Twists, Good Writing;
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2017
This is a difficult book to comment on because the author has talent. The writing flows easily and although the pacing slows at times, it never gets completely bogged down. It is difficult to discuss what didn't work without creating spoilers, so I will share as much as I can.
There are characters in the book who are not killers yet they make plans to kill another person. While all of us have, at one time or another, been angry enough to express (or at least) the thought that we could kill someone, these are fantasies that we use to "blow off steam." There are books written on the psychology of killing, dealing with how the everyday person faces and usually evades killing another person, even in war. Humans are just not wired to kill another human, even in war. I am not saying that it is not possible, but I am saying that I found it difficult to believe that the people in the book would be able to carry out any plans they might make to kill someone. Unfortunately, this is a major part of the story.
There are two twists in the story, which the author handles perfectly. If Mr. Dunnett would not have carefully written his book in the manner he used, one of the twists would not have worked at all. The twist in the last chapter was totally unexpected...so unexpected, in fact, that I had to reread that section three times to ensure I had not misread it. Serious thought went into the twists, and the author made it look easy.
To recap, the writing is good, and the surprises are professionally crafted. While the characterizations of the boys are good and Natalie is around enough to make me feel like I know her, Dave and other characters are not as fleshed out as the others. The idea that any normal person could plan to kill another person was difficult to pull off, and as an intricate part of the plot, it weakens the story. If you can suspend disbelief through this aspect, it is an entertaining read. Three-and-a-half stars.