Book Review: 'WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW', by JoAnn Chaney.
This riveting debut by author JoAnn Chaney is a nail-biting crime thriller that keeps you guessing until the end.
Seven years prior, detectives Ralph Loren and Paul Hoskins had solved the highest-profile serial killer case in Denver. 31 bodies were dug up from a crawl-space of a residential house, and the perpetrator, Jacky Seever, was brought to justice. Sammie Petersen’s exclusive first-on-the-scene reporting had made her a name to be reckoned with in the media world. And Gloria, Seever’s wife, who claimed to have no knowledge of her husband’s crime, found herself facing the prospect of moving on from it all, but with no idea how.
Seven years on. Seever’s still in prison. Hoskins has been demoted to a desk job. His ex-partner, the temperamental Loren, is constantly alienating one new partner after another. Sammie is working in a retail make-up department. And Gloria is living the life of anonymity, shut off from the outside world.
But then the killings begin again, with the crimes bearing all the hallmarks of Seever’s notorious deeds. But Seever is locked away in prison? Right?
For Hoskins, Loren and Sammie, it presents the opportunity to ‘rise from the ashes’ in their respective careers, to have a crack at solving the crime that only they have the unique insight into. But for Gloria, it’s about facing a set of truths she so desperately wants to avoid.
The chapters in the book are recounted as individually seen through the eyes of the main characters, predominantly Hoskins, Sammie and Gloria. The pages are immediately awash with foul language and gory descriptions. The bad language initially comes across as ‘lazy’ story telling, going for shock value to hide narrative composition inadequacies. However, this helps enhance the flaws in the characters’ personalities, and makes each one appear they have something to hide. In fact, the selfishness and unsympathetic nature of the characters make even the ‘heroes’ of the story difficult to root for. The author then manipulates her characters like pieces on a chess board, bouncing doubt and suspicion from one to the other. Until finally, all the objects are in position for the climatic conclusion.
A well-crafted, tightly-wound thriller, with a Hollywood, twist-in-the-tale ending. A humdinger of a first novel!