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Dave Conifer does a good job of getting you into the head of the main character, and you really start to feel for her and the situation she is in with what appears to be a bad marriage to a selfish husband who only thinks of himself vs. being a good husband, father, friend, and supervisor of a department. Without having a spoiler, he does a good job of weaving the pieces together, but there are a few areas you'll question from a believability factor. Overall, this is a good tale and is a page turner (or a Kindle clicker) and I enjoyed it, and I am looking to reading more from this author.
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on January 11, 2011
In two breathless sittings, I raced through Dave Conifer's "Wrecker." I haven't burned through a book that quickly in quite some time, but Conifer's latest novel is a very gripping read from the get-go.

Steve Havelock thinks it's his lucky day when he finds a handyman willing to work for bottom dollar. His wife, Jane, is none too happy though, because there's something decidedly off about Rob Manteo. But despite Jane's misgivings, Steve hires Manteo anyway. After all, a bargain is a bargain! Never mind that they have a 4-year-old daughter in the house...

And that's the setup for this fast-paced thriller, which twists, turns, and goes around the bend many times over.

Dave Conifer is at the top of his game here, with his latest effort ranking right alongside the best of Joseph Finder, Harlan Coben, and indie standout Eric Christopherson. Featuring rich, detailed, layered characters that will keep you guessing and a plot that never hits the pause button, "Wrecker" kept me hooked all the way through. It almost "wrecked" my sleep schedule because I didn't want to put it down and go to bed. A highly absorbing read.
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on August 7, 2011
For the first 60-70% nothing happens except we learn that Steve is an @ss, Jane is a willing victim who can't even stand up for her own daughter (not to mention for being a nurse she seems to know squat about anything healthcare related) and Manteo obviously has problems. I had most of this story figured about at around 14% in. Once they tossed in the final name I had the whole thing pegged. The entire book was just unbelievable with a cast of characters you couldn't like.
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I enjoyed this book. There were some neat connections that tied the story together and made for an exciting plot. These connections result in a satisfying, if a little unrealistic, ending. The final twist is definitely unexpected, and I'm not sure how I felt about it. I found it interesting, and it just added that much more to the ending, but the way it was written made it seem a little outlandish. I think it would have gone over better had the reveal been a little more subtle.

I really liked the character of Jane. I found her believable and interesting, and the most developed character in the book. I found Steve a little more cliche. His reactions seemed more over-the-top than the story called for, and he was almost a caricature of a busy, disinterested husband. Rob's character had a lot of potential, but he confused me at times. I realize he may not have been "all there" mentally, but I never quite got the whole "I'm doing it for her" train of thought. It seemed such a big part of his motivation, but I felt that particular thread didn't have a lot of closure. From the emphasis on that, I thought it might have played a bigger role down the line. The relationship between Jane and Rob was fascinating, and it was fun to follow the path it took throughout the story.

The writing was stylistically very simple, which made for a fast read. The story was engaging and interesting, with several twists and turns along the way. I found sections of dialogue to be somewhat unrealistic and trite at times, however. Some of the information presented through dialogue may have been better shown through actions, or by taking a step inside the characters' heads. Although the plot itself has a lot of depth, I felt the writing lacked some of that depth. The story dragged here and there, but it never dragged to the point where I wanted to put the book down. I was definitely interested from beginning to end. Towards the ending, the shifts between scenes and characters were quicker, and that was in line with the upcoming climax.

All in all, an interesting and fun read!

3.5 /5 stars @ MotherLode blog
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on January 12, 2011
This was a great book and it surpassed any expectations I may have had for it. It is written from the different perspectives of a few of the characters, which I thought was great. When it would switch from one person to the next I would yell, "Oh come on! I want to know what happens with this person!" Of course, I had to continue reading to get there and then would yell the same thing once the next change occurred.

Overall, I thought it was a great and original story. I highly recommend this book!
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on January 10, 2011
I really enjoyed this book. Wrecker is the story of Steve and Jane Havelock and their 4 year old daughter Allie. Steve is a programmer and general all around pig and Jane is a nurse and a lovely woman who is totally unappreciated by her husband.

Steve hires Rob Manteo to do some work on their home - a strange hulk of a man who seems to be either mentally challenged, physically ill or both. Manteo does an excellent job and Steve hires him for one project after another.

Steve has escalating problems at work and Jane is getting messages from a stranger that show Steve may not really be working all the time. As her suspicions grow and Steve pulls further away, she and Manteo develop a friendship which reveals the tragedy that has made Manteo what he is today.

The results are completely unexpected and I was surprised over and over again with the twists the story took. I highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys a suspense book that challenges your mind.

I received a copy of this book free from the author. He asked me to submit an honest review and this is it. After reading this book I have already purchased another by this author.
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on September 25, 2011
Wrecker was a foray outside my usual reading genre, but I decided to give it a go based on the reviews and the striking cover.

The writing style was fluid and the word choice economical. This made it easy to get straight into the story. The principle characters, Steve and Jane, were well sketched (Jane in particular in the early stages of the book). Their dialogue was naturalistic and revealed heaps about their personalities.

Steve came across as self-absorbed and rather loathsome, which was key to some of the events that take place later on in the story. He's also something of an unconscionable opportunist, which is why he sees no problem employing handyman Rob Manteo for a pittance after running into him in a store. Not only does he have no issue with underpaying the guy, but he leaves this total stranger, clearly a steroid abuser, alone with his wife and child.

Jane is the character easiest to sympathize with. She shows some empathy for Manteo and heroic levels of self-restraint when she starts to receive unwanted information about her husband.

Manteo is also easy to empathize with early on, but this changed for me towards the end of the book.

The opening 60% of Wrecker was extremely well-written. Yes, there were some errors dotted around (mostly word omissions rather than actual typos), but never enough to get in the way of the story. These early scenes were subtly drawn and told from different POVs (principally Jane and Steve, but later Rockingham, a cop with rather an unhealthy interest in Manteo).

What I liked most of all about the first half of the book was the mystery. Events (seemingly unrelated) begin to unfold, but there is just enough information for the reader to hypothesize. Even though I'd worked out much of the central mystery early on, it was never definite in my mind (just extremely likely). It was utterly engaging following the characters as they tried to piece together what was going on. Steve's rapid decline was excruciating at times; it would have been more so had he been likable.

In these scenes, Conifer showed a mastery of his material. I was hooked from the start and already composing a review in which I extolled his virtues as an author. This guy can write, and write well.

The last 40% of the book took a slight downturn, as far as I'm concerned. It shifted from the earlier subtlety to a cliched and, at times, unbelievable pastiche of Hollywood thrillers. To a large extent, the characters remained consistent, but the action starts to become a bit over-the-top. The build towards the climactic ending was perhaps a little too drawn out and had me feeling impatient.

Probably the weakest moment, for me, was when the principle antagonist explains everything that's happened, along with motives, in what is virtually an info dump disguised as a conversation. Not only that, but the information was somewhat redundant as the reader should have already worked much of this out at that point. I felt Conifer had done a great job of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, but then he either doubted the reader's ability to follow it, or he doubted his own ability to have communicated the key elements of the story effectively. The editor in me wanted to bash him over the head with my Kindle and shout "Cut! Cut! Cut!". One slip, that's all it took, and the hard work of the first 60% was undermined.

The only other gripe I have is with the abrupt ending. I guess, after all that had happened, I wanted the opportunity to unwind with the characters. That's an indication that so much worked with this book.

Character identification was one of the great strengths of Wrecker. Use of POV was excellent throughout. Whenever there is a change of POV, Conifer marks it clearly with a scene break. He builds tension very well by flipping between characters in this way, and also uses shorter POV sequences to pick up pace.

In some ways, the structure of Wrecker reminded me of The Butcher's Boy (M.R. Mathias), although Wrecker is subtler (at first) and lacks the terror of Butcher's.

Overall it was an enjoyable read that started brilliantly, but fell away a little later on. The writing is good, but there were a few too many errors (more in the second half). Nothing major, but the accumulation of missed words did start to detract towards the end.

Wrecker has shown me enough to realize that Dave Conifer is an excellent writer. Anyone who can hook me early on and get me to identify with their characters has already succeeded in the primary tasks of an author. The only reason I can't give this the five stars I thought it deserved early on is the change that occurs just past the midway point. Once the mystery is solved and the consequences start to play out, it devolves into a slightly hackneyed formula that does not fully showcase the author's true strengths, which were on display very effectively at the beginning.

Writing style: 9/10
Characterization: 9/10
Editing: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Enjoyment: 9/10

Rating: 4.2/5
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on December 11, 2011
The husband is totally unlikeable, the wife is downright stupid, you get the plot as soon as the wife goes to the "manor"for the first time, and then the story goes on and on because the wife is too stupid to figure things out.
The only thing that kept me going for about 45% was that at least it was rather well written and readable, therefore 2 stars and not 1, but in the end I gave up due to boredom, it was totally uninteresting once you had the plot figured out.
Don't pay for this. I don't think trying a sample will help anyone because the first 10% were rather OK.
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This is the first book I've read by this author. I had high hopes at the beginning. The book started off strong, an intriguing plot, characters that seemed like they might becoming interesting, decent writing. We learned that Jane is kind of a wimp, but at least had a bit of a personality. Steve is a jerk, but I hoped it was just because we were getting to know the character. Steve's friends were all doofus' (or is that doofusi in plural?). Rob was the only interesting character right off the bat. Allie could have been written to have more of a personality. As it was, we really didn't care about anyone.

So, keep reading and the relationship between Jane and Rob becomes a little more interesting. Rob and Allie, kind of cute. Then some action starts happening and it's all "Whoa, this is going to be GOOD!"

Then, it's not.

Suddenly, it's like another author took over. The dialogue became unbelievable, even stupid. I can't give examples without giving away the plot but lets just say if you and your wife and child were faced with a high action, dangerous experience where there were cops, ambulances, blood and stuff - would that be the the time you'd mention "hey babe, let's have another kid". Especially when you've been an aye-hole during the entire book showing no interest in the kid you already have? I figured out what was going to happen about 1/2 through the book, once all of the characters were in place the book took a familiar and predictable turn. It seemed like the author threw in a bunch of needless drama and characters as an afterthought. Plus, he wrote Jane to be stupid and not that caring of her child at the end either.

I hate to write bad reviews on books because I think writing is an art and art is subjective. But, I'd also be ticked off to download a book with 5 star reviews and find out it was crap - it would make me wonder how many of those 5 stars were fakes, shills or just not true?

So, go into this one with your eyes wide open and understanding this is the equivalent of a "B" movie - entertaining enough to get you through a short flight or a road trip but stupid enough where you might quit in the middle or not remember the ending 5 minutes after you've read it.
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on December 19, 2011
I can easily see this book being turned into a 'movie of the week' on one of those channels like Lifetime. As others have said, the characters were hardly likable. Even knowing early on the bad guy was going to be REALLY bad, I kinda wanted him to kill the husband (jerk deserved it.) The wife could have then gotten him off the steroids and run off with him into the sunset.

Pretty cheesy book...way too predictable.
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