Thursday, 31 March 2016

Book Review: NO ONE KNOWS by J. T. Ellison

No One Knows

No One Knows
Author: J. T. Ellison
Publisher: Gallery Books
Read: March 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

In an obsessive mystery as thrilling as The Girl on the Train andThe Husband’s Secret, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison will make you question every twist in her page-turning novel—and wonder which of her vividly drawn characters you should trust.

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on; she wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious yet strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?

In No One Knows, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Nicholas Drummond series expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. This masterful thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins will pull readers into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows. 

My thoughts:

Aubrey Hamilton is devastated when she receives a letter stating that 5 years after his mysterious disappearance, her husband Josh has now officially been declared dead. Initially under suspicion of his murder, Aubrey has had to deal with the after effects of her grief, drowning her sorrows and loneliness in alcohol and doing time in a mental institution. Just as she finally feels she has her life together again, the letter brings all those memories crashing down on her, making her wonder what really happened to her husband all those years ago. But some things are best left undisturbed, and the deeper Aubrey digs into Josh’s past, the more she realises that there are a lot of things she did not know about her husband.

No One Knows throws up an interesting premise – how well do we really know the ones nearest and dearest to us? Whilst Josh’s disappearance initially sounds like he has met with foul play, it soon becomes obvious that he may have kept secrets from his wife. The story drew me in initially and I settled in for a good read, but sadly the structure of the novel did not work for me. Aside from the multiple POVs, the storyline also skips constantly between the present, the events of 5 years ago and Aubrey’s childhood when she first met Josh. A few authors can pull this off well, but in this case it served only to make the storyline jumbled and disorganised. I also felt that some chapters, especially those telling of Aubrey’s childhood, did nothing to add to the overall storyline and soon lost my interest. I also felt that the suspense  would have been better preserved without Josh’s voice revealing part of the mystery, which was really the only thing that kept me reading on.

 It did not help that I felt it difficult to warm to any of the characters. I wanted to like Aubrey – I really did. The grieving devoted wife, trying to find out the truth. However, from very early on there is something fishy about Aubrey which doesn’t quite fit. Most of the other characters seemed a bit stereotypical to me, not genuine. There are plenty of twists and red herrings thrown into the mix, but some were so unbelievable that the best they evoked in me was a derisive snort. I wish that authors would stop trying to throw in a completely off-centre ending to be in the same category as “Gone Girl”. It rarely works out well. Once the ending was revealed, it left so many loose ends and implausible facts that I felt slightly cheated.

Not the right book for me obviously – for me, suspension of disbelief only works when the story is powerful enough to draw me along, when I feel passionate about the characters and  am swept away by the current of the narrative. This was not the case here. I guess if you want a quick and easy read with a twisty end, you may enjoy this one, but I have read far too many excellent and well constructed mystery-suspense stories this year to give this one any more than 2 stars.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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