Top critical review
Great Plot Bogged Down by Questionable Characters and a Cliffhanger
Reviewed in the United States on November 25, 2019
The detective genre is littered with main characters who have a physical or mental disability (or have an event in their past that could have crippled them but they have found ways to rise above it, even though it remains like an ugly wound that refuses to heal). Gregg Olsen’s “Snow Creek” is one more book added to that pile. And that’s a shame.
I thought I had the plot figured out early on, and never imagined the twists that were added as the story played out. There are multiple subplots that are woven together, some merely minor bits and pieces while others greatly impact the main mystery. The storytelling in “Snow Creek” is the book’s five-star element.
The characters in the book are flat, which affects an important aspect, motivation. At times it was difficult to suspend disbelief and I found myself continually questioning the characters’ actions. It is a credit to Mr. Olsen’s presentation that the weak motivations did not cause the story to fall apart. While the multiple storylines offered the chance to develop many different characters, it became harder and harder to believe that most of them were coldhearted and prone to criminal tendencies.
Detective Megan Carpenter offers a first-person view of the action. Unfortunately, much of her character development is dependent upon long flashbacks, some of which last for chapters. It seemed immediately obvious that Mr. Olsen plans to keep Detective Carpenter around for many books, and I initially thought that it would have been better to reveal more about her past in subsequent novels. When the book ended in a cliffhanger enabled by the long flashbacks, I felt deflated. While the Snow Creek mystery had been solved, the ham-handed ploy to get readers to purchase the next book was unnecessary. For me, it caused the exact opposite reaction.
Bottom line: Great plot with unexpected twists tainted by characters displaying motivations that I questioned and long information dumps that in the end only served the purpose of introducing a major plotline in the next book. This could have been a fantastic read. Three stars.