Howdy, howdy! Merry Christmas to all who celebrate and happy holidays to those who celebrate something else! I hope everyone has a pleasant day full of love and good food. Dad’s making a lasagna for us. It’s okay. You can be jealous. Anyway, it’s the last Wednesday of the month, so that means it’s book review time. When I requested this month’s book, I thought it was a mystery based on the description, but I really don’t know what category it falls into. It’s called A Small Town by Thomas Perry. It was released on December 17th by The Mysterious Press (an imprint of Grove Atlantic). As usual, I must thank the publisher and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.
A Small Town follows a bunch of people, but primarily Leah Hawkins, in the aftermath of a prison break. It’s been two years and the twelve who orchestrated it have yet to be caught. The current police chief of the dying town decides to take a sabbatical to hunt the twelve down herself. Can she succeed where everyone else has failed?
I’m going to say it right up front: I hated this book with a passion. So, if you don’t want to read one long rant, feel free to skip to the rating. For everyone else, my dislike started with the basic premise. A small town cop with the exact same leads as the FBI is the only one who can find these men who aren’t even that hard to find. The first one was living with his mother. I’m sure the FBI had no idea about that and had no one watching the place at least in the beginning. It’d be too easy. Turns out it was that easy, but only Leah could figure it out. From there, she got a bunch of lucky leads. It was annoying. And I won’t even go into the psychology of the escapees and how some with non-violent histories are suddenly committing rape and murder to “kill the town” and make their escape easier.
Then there were the subplots. Leah’s romance was ridiculous. She was the other woman to some city official but it was okay because his wife had just been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy (as if that’s not an umbrella term for multiple possible diagnoses), so her sex life was over and she was a benevolent being who allowed the affair. First off, stop perpetuating the idea that cripples aren’t sexual beings. Second, do your damn research. One quick Google search will tell you that MD is a number of different diseases. Pick one. Lastly, his wife may have been a forgiving person, but don’t use a disability to rationalize shitty behavior. It’s not okay. And the romance did nothing to further the main plot anyway, so it was completely unnecessary.
There was also that whole cheating thing with the racist woman and the criminal. The sex scenes were completely random and felt like they were thrown in last minute to set up the deaths of two of the escaped prisoners so that Leah wouldn’t have to hunt them down. It just felt like lazy storytelling. But I was already firmly against this book by that point, so maybe I’m wrong. I doubt it, but maybe.
The writing was subpar at best. I understand adding description to flesh stuff out and up the tension, but I know how to open a door. Going through it step by step is just tedious. And that’s how a lot of this book felt. Tedious. And then there was the POV. It was one of those books that was in everyone’s head and jumped around multiple times each chapter, which is fine. The bad part was that there are so many names thrown around and characters that only show up once that it’s impossible to follow without some kind of chart. I don’t understand why half of the people were even worth getting names let alone a peek inside their head. There was no focus.
Ultimately, I wanted to stop reading A Small Town. I would have if I hadn’t been reviewing it. But I figured I needed to see if it got any better. It didn’t.
Overall, I gave it 1 out of 5 stars because NetGalley and everything requires some kind of star rating. It’s really more like half a star because I acknowledge that some people enjoyed it. Pick it up if it’s your thing. It wasn’t mine.