Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay and a big thank you to Chrissie of Head of Zeus for the invite to read and review this great debut novel!
University student Matt Pine has just received devastating news. Nearly his entire family have been found dead while holidaying in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI aren’t convinced – and they won’t tell Matt why.
The tragedy thrusts his family into the media spotlight again. Seven years ago, Matt’s older brother, Danny, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his teenage girlfriend. Danny has always sworn he was innocent, and last year, a true crime documentary that claimed he was wrongfully convicted went viral.
Now his family’s murder is overlapping with Danny’s case, Matt is determined to uncover the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison. Even if it means putting his own life in danger, and confronting his every last fear.
That opening chapter of Every Last Fear… BAM! I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so in your face right from the start. The discovery of Matt’s dead family was a little bit shocking, yet intriguing and it certainly made me want to dive right into the story, so as far as first chapters go, I’ve got to give it credit, it’s easily one of the best I have come across in quite some time.
In general terms, I very much enjoyed the writing style of the author as well as the special format of the story building and it didn’t take me long at all to know that this was going to be a novel to devour and that I would need more hours in a day. There are several mysteries up in the air at the same time making Every Last Fear quite a rollercoaster read. The first being of course the murder of the family which had me guessing wildly why anyone would want to murder an entire family (assuming it wasn’t an accident of course but I thought that was a safe bet) but I could not see any reason for a very long time. The other plotline involves the possible false imprisonment of Matt’s other brother Danny. Matt is absolutely sure Danny’s guilty but his father Evan and sister Maggie were never convinced he did it and never stopped trying to prove otherwise. The small matter of fact is that Danny actually confessed, just to make things more complex. What happened 7 years ago isn’t just told in cold hard facts nor in flashbacks like is often the case in these type of novels, no it’s through the family’s investigation as well as parts of a documentary made after Danny’s arrest that an image took shape in my head until the rest was filled in at a much later point in the novel.
There’s also a detective in the story, Sarah Keller, but – another surprise – she’s not appointed to investigate the family’s deaths (because they were claimed to be an accident) but leading a money-laundering investigation into Marconi LLP, the firm Evan Pine was employed at before he was made redundant. Did that mean we have to search in the direction of corporate fraud or were the answers lying elsewhere? It’s not Keller who leads us single handedly to the truth in this novel but there was a wonderful mix of leads being followed and progress brought on by several of the family’s characters. There were also parts of an interview with Evan Pine interspersed between the chapters which were intriguing to read and I hoped they would help me build a picture of what happened with Danny Pine and possibly hold a clue in them somewhere that could be useful later into the story.
At around 60-65% I started to have a small inkling about some of the answers but it was really only in the last 10% of the novel that it all started to make a lot more sense. I absolutely loved that the author was able to keep me in suspense for so long, and although I’m still in two minds about whether the (entire) family really had to die and the motive, I enjoyed the outcome very much.
Finally, a word of appreciation for making me feel the pain of losing this wonderful family. I knew four members of the family were dead right from the start, yet I couldn’t help hoping for another outcome at the end of the novel. They were so alive in all those pages, Maggie a wonderful tenacious investigator and Evan such a wonderful father, it made it all the more tragic.
Every Last Fear is a very commendable debut novel. I love the author’s fresh ideas and I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Alex Finlay in the future!
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is as always my honest opinion.
* Do check out the other stops on the tour here *