***A big thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review***
WARNING: Book contains sexual imagery involving both adults and children as well as murder.
It has been quite a while since I have delved into a mystery novel. Though Remember Me by D.E. White didn’t seem to have the hard core murder vibe that I used to love ah-la Mary Higgins Clark, I figured it would possess enough intrigue to make for a fast paced mind binder mystery. I was wrong on all fronts, but wasn’t fully aware how wrong I was until I was deep into the story.
It starts off strong as we meet our MC, Ava Cole, who is an LAPD detective thrust back to her old home town in Wales where 15 years ago she was a part of a murder cover-up, but not just any murder, the murder of her best friend, Ellen Smith. But this isn’t why she is coming back, no she’s here for the son and ex-husband she abandoned two years after the murder occurred. Her ex-husband was of course one of the friends in on the cover-up, but managed to react like a garbage human being when Ava needed to get away from there to forget what had happened. Literally, the price she paid in order to save her mental health was her son. It’s sad, but I get why she left.
GOOD POINT: The story starts out with an intense slow burn. Ava has been receiving text messages since before she left for Wales and they are growing in number and creepiness. This was enough to peak my interest, but I’ll admit that not all the text messages were gems, especially when you look back after the “big reveal,” so while they were enough to keep me reading initially, I felt they ultimately served no purpose to the crux of the story.
So Ava’s ex-husband remarried his high school sweetheart, Penny, who he would have ended up with anyway, but had a fling with Ava that resulted in a child. (Though it’s revealed that that wasn’t even a real reason). Penny right off the bat gives off strong Stepford Wife vibes that made my “She’s the murderer” sense go into overdrive. This wasn’t all to shocking because I am a reader that analyzes everything and reading a mystery novel kind of kicks that habit into overdrive.
The story progresses with Ava trying to make amends with her now adult son (we never really get closure with that story line) while also being tossed back into this old secret pack murder cover-up as well as new murders. Basically, anyone who gets close to discovering the “secret” ends up dead. We also know that it’s someone connected with the original murder because we get numerous chapters from the killer’s POV.
GOOD POINT: I enjoyed the attempt to give us a glimpse into the mind of the killer, but it fell flat for me. What was supposed to be intense and heart pounding, only came off as making the person behind the whole thing seem pointless with no real motivation. We learn that the killer is in “love” with Ava, yet the story stops just short of making it a true crime of passion situation, why? I feel so much more could have been accomplished and your characters would have been more well rounded had this been the course you took.
Aside from the mystery aspect of the book there wasn’t much else that pulled me into it. Ava as a character was badly written in that I doubt an LAPD detective would have done 90% of the bullshit she gets away with. A lot of the “police work” she did in the book rang so false to me, that I would have been willing to believe that Ava wasn’t really a cop at all, let alone a detective. Then the author has her sleep with the one guy who has acted misogynistic to her the entire time? At that point I labeled her as a weak character at best and wouldn’t have missed her.
As far as the other characters, they all fell into the same problem. They were overly dramatic in their personalities that made them seem not human at all. Almost as if they didn’t exist in this world until the book demanded them to. The killer’s motivation was lacking. This was a big disappointment to me as figuring out the who early on, the only thing driving me was the why and the payoff, in my opinion, wasn’t worth it.
The writing was solid though and read easy making the experience smooth in that regard. I think White can spin a decent story, but perhaps needs to tweak a few details and build her characters more so her stories feel more complete.
My feelings are mixed when it comes to recommending this, but I wouldn’t mind checking out her other novels and seeing if her other work might flip that switch.
BAD POINT: Tough Love!
3.5 Out of 5 Stars
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