Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Say My Name by Joe Clifford Book Review

About the Book:

A true crime story about a crime that never happened — or did it?

On the heels of a divorce, a mid-list mystery writer returns to his hometown in Central CT and is dragged back into a decades-old, unsolved case involving former missing classmates to expose the horrific secrets of a quaint, idyllic New England town.

Fusing the modern domestic psychological thriller with popular unsolved mysteries (Girl on the Train meets In Cold Blood), this meta blend of true crime and fiction plays with expectations and perspective before its mind-blowing conclusion. 

My Review:

I was fascinated with this novel. It reads like a true crime investigation. As others have commented and as the book is described, it is a novel. It is fiction but it does not read like it is. Reading this book was really an interesting and almost disconcerting experience.

I did have trouble liking the hero. I liked the idea of him trying to get a new start on life after so many things had recently happened to him. But he got drunk way too often and checked out of a conversation right when someone was telling him some important information. I am sure his character was deliberately crafted that way, considering the twist at the end. In a sense, this novel is a mystery but also a character study.

The plot was well crafted. It certainly could be predicted that digging into a decades old unsolved crime in a relatively small town would cause trouble. The villain was not expected, but the other people involved did not come as a surprise. There were suitable twists and red herrings that kept me reading as new facts were uncovered.

Perhaps we are left with a creepy question at the end. How much of our life do we create like an author writes a story? This is a good novel for readers who like an unusual spin on a cold case investigation.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

After spending the 1990s as a homeless heroin addict in San Francisco, Joe Clifford got off the streets and turned his life around. He earned his MFA from Florida International University in 2008, before returning to the Bay Area, where he currently lives with his wife and two sons. His memoir, 
Junkie Love, chronicles his battle with drugs and was first published in 2010 and re-released in 2018. He is the author of the award-winning Jay Porter Thriller Series, as well as several standalone including The One That Got Away, The Lakehouse, The Shadow People and Say My Name.

Square Tire Press, 303 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Swell Media. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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