I am a big fan of fantasy, a big fan of crime and mystery novels, and a big fan of sarcastically dry characters. “Storm Front”, on the surface, absolutely ticks all those boxes. We’ve got a sarcastically dry wizard who consults with the Chicago police department when murders don’t make sense in the traditional manner. I absolutely love, love that premise! And I did go in knowing that Harry, as an MC, is written to be chauvinistic, and have been assured that he, as a character, gets better in that regard, so I tried to not let that bother me as I was reading. So why did a book that ticks so many of my boxes end up being kind of… meh for me?
I had to take my time with this review so it wouldn’t devolve into a jumble of screeching and excited gurgles. But trust me when I say that this book is like riding a roller coaster while tripping. But, you know, in the most masterful way possible. Muir is easily, and quickly, becoming one of my favorite authors; not only can she craft such a gothic and macabre, gory and intensely beautiful world, but she successfully uses ALL THREE types of POV’s in this book in order to build the most amazing mystery and the best pay out for said mystery that I’ve read in a long, long time. Which makes writing a review for this book so, so hard… I don’t want to say anything for fear it mat spoil something, which would ruin everything. But let’s give it a try, shall we?
I won’t lie, I got this book because I am fascinated about true crime; particularly the mindset of these offenders and serial killers. So, of course, I wanted to read the famed “Mindhunter’s” take on a series of cases that are, for all intents and purposes, unsolved to this day. The authors do a great job of analyzing the facts available for these cases, and provide a brief overlook on the kind of person and criminal who would perpetrate such a crime, along with what a law enforcement official would need to do, or look for, before and after the case in order to apprehend the offender. And, for the most part, this book did not disappoint in that regard. I found the authors straight forward—if sometimes dry—presentation to be illuminating when it came to the kind of behaviors and motives that particular killers would show, or how police could have found them “back in the day” had things been different. But, sometimes, one of the authors does let his bias and ego show too much for my tastes.
Welp, I’ve finally done it, friends. I’m DNFing this book. I just can’t finish it. I can’t think of a book that felt more like a chore to read. And, normally, since this is a book I’m setting aside, I wouldn’t even review it, but I got to the 63% mark so I feel like I am capable of passing some level of judgement. I’m not rating this book anywhere else, nor reviewing it for that matter, except for here, so let’s get into it shall we? How a book that is supposed to be a thriller and mystery, darkly humorous, and set in Thailand from a native perspective really came across as anything but.
If there is one central message to “Sophie Last Seen” it was: grief has no timetable. Or at least, that was the message I took away from this raw tale of a mother’s unrelenting search for her missing daughter. The story focuses on the way grief, and the anxiety riddled feeling of not knowing whether you should mourn someone’s passing or never give up the search, changes people. The way it shapes them and how it can both destroy, and reinvent them. Jesse, at the start of the novel, is nearly destroyed by the lack of answers she has regarding Sophie’s disappearance. She constantly searches, turning herself into an alcoholic and a bit of a hoarder as she believes every little thing she finds is a clue as to what happened to Sophie and where she is. Sophie’s best friend, Star, is nearly crippled by her guilt and the thoughts of what could have happened to her best friend to the point where she is haunted by images of Sophie and turns to self-harm in order to banish the disturbing thoughts and images. Their grief, guilt, and destructive coping mechanisms are incredibly raw and they create a tangible ache in the reader, even if they haven’t experienced what these characters are going through. It’s definitely not a light read, but it is a powerful one.
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