When I first saw this book making the rounds on Twitter, I knew I had to read it due to its incredibly interesting premise.
Wilbrook in Western Australia is a sleepy, remote town that sits on the edge of miles and miles of unexplored wilderness. It is home to Police Sergeant Chandler Jenkins, who is proud to run the town’s small police station, a place used to dealing with domestic disputes and noise complaints.
All that changes on a scorching day when an injured man stumbles into Chandler’s station. He’s covered in dried blood. His name is Gabriel. He tells Chandler what he remembers.
He was drugged and driven to a cabin in the mountains and tied up in iron chains. The man who took him was called Heath. Heath told Gabriel he was going to be number 55. His 55th victim.
Heath is a serial killer.
As a manhunt is launched, a man who says he is Heath walks into the same station. He tells Chandler he was taken by a man named Gabriel. Gabriel told Heath he was going to be victim 55.
Gabriel is the serial killer.
Two suspects. Two identical stories. Which one is the truth?
What’s really interesting about this book is, thanks to the blurb, you have an idea of how the beginning is going to play out. You know two men are going to walk in to Chandler’s station and report the same crime, and you’d think this runs the risk of taking away the suspense because there’s no element of surprise to the opening. In this instance, knowing what was to come heightened the suspense, because, as the reader, you’re alert from the first page, ready to hear both stories, descriptions of both men’s demeanours to see if you can figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying.
As the plot progressed, there wasn’t as much action as I’d been anticipating, less of a crime thriller novel, it was very much a mystery-driven novel; a mystery of who the serial killer really is, and why. It was, of course, packed with enough unlikeable characters to create excitement, in contrast to Chandler, who was very likeable, a character to get behind. You get an insight into his personal life, but it doesn’t dominate the plot, and this helps portray him as someone you want to support both in the job and at home.
Set in Wilbrook in Western Australia, the blurb isn’t lying when it refers to the town as sleepy and remote. It didn’t give off the small-town feel I’m used to, because everything was so sparse, everyone living in isolation of each other. But I did enjoy the setting because the isolation created tension, the belief that a killer could move undetected through the town. There’s also the added battle of the elements in this novel, the wilderness surrounding the town, again this heightened tension, because can anyone really win in a battle against nature?
There were a few moments when this novel lost its momentum due to a change in timeline but overall, it was an original, interesting, cleverly plotted novel that I have no problem recommending.
*My thanks to the publisher (Simon & Schuster) for providing me with a copy of this book*