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Or Else: A Thriller Paperback – April 1, 2022
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A secret love becomes a fatal affair in a twisting novel of suspense by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart.
When novelist Andy Drake returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father, a reconnection with his childhood friend Rachel escalates into a secret love affair. For Rachel, struggling to maintain the facade of a picture-perfect life, it’s an escape from an emotionally abusive marriage. Then Andy receives an anonymous note warning him to end the affair. Or else.
Whoever’s been watching is going to make Andy pay. Weeks later, Rachel’s husband, David, is shot to death. Rachel and her two young sons vanish without a trace. One misstep, one careless reveal, and Andy could look as guilty as sin. Clue by clue, as his investigation into the mystery unfolds, Andy discovers that he and Rachel weren’t the only ones keeping secrets.
Nothing in this quiet neighborhood is as it seems. No one peeking from behind the curtains of their homes can be trusted. And the worst is yet to come. Because David isn’t the only one who will die.
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“Or Else is a thriller/suspense tour de force. Joe Hart has knocked it out of the park with a start-to-finish roller coaster ride of perfectly executed twists and expertly timed chills. Deep character development and rich narrative seals Or Else’s place as the not-to-be-missed domestic thriller/suspense of the year.” ―Steven Konkoly, author of the Ryan Decker series and Deep Sleep
“The perfect thriller for a rainy afternoon, Or Else draws you into a web of small town secrets, lies, and intrigue and doesn’t let you go. Hart’s well-rendered setting and characters resonate like people and places you’ve known. Loved every minute of this absolute page-turner!” ―D.M. Pulley, bestselling author of The Dead Key
“Joe Hart has written compelling stories before, but it’s in Or Else that he shows off just how good he is. This book checks all the boxes for me: a (seemingly) quiet, small town drama―filled with those little quirks and secrets nobody wants to talk about―that quickly blossoms into something big, sinister, and menacing. Hart doesn’t pull any punches on some serious issues, either: love, infidelity, family conflict…there’s plenty to think about right up to the explosive ending. THIS is the thriller you’ll be recommending for the foreseeable future.” ―Matthew Iden, author of the Marty Singer series and The Winter Over
About the Author
Joe Hart is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of fourteen novels, including The River Is Dark, Obscura, The Last Girl, and We Sang in the Dark. When not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, exploring the great outdoors, and watching movies with his family. For more information on his upcoming novels and access to his blog, visit www.joehartbooks.com.
- Publisher : Thomas & Mercer (April 1, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 253 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1542035120
- ISBN-13 : 978-1542035125
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #212,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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This is the first part where as the reader you start to learn of the possible suspects. All of them seem plausible. I wouldn’t say the book is fast paced but it keeps you interested. The characters are well defined and relatable. The author does an amazing job keeping you in thriller mode while also keeping some levity. It is after Andy tries to discuss the note with Rachel that the events really start to unfold.
MINOR SPOILER ALERTS:
You learned that Andy‘s lover Rachel’s husband David has a business partner that had recently died by suicide. You learned that there was some problems within that organization but not much comes to clarity until the moment you’ve learned that the police are at Rachel‘s house because David was found murdered and Rachel and the kids were missing. It is at this point you start the protagonist Andy starts his own investigation… during David‘s investigation you learn of his traumatic past and how it will relate to the current situation.
There is another death that seemed unrelated. Mary was killed in an accident at her home. She was a church assistant. one evening Andy wakes up to find a visitor had entered his house and sitting in his kitchen. This man seems to be a professional that has mob connections. Andy immediately thinks this guy works for the people that had David killed and who are also holding Rachel and the kids. The man tells Andy to back away but also said he had nothing to do with David and his family. Andy doesn’t quite believe this but keeps his investigation going…. Later you find out the truth that the Priest really started everything by molesting David and Rachel’s son and the dad confronts the priest and extorts money for his silence… Once you find this out as the reader you believe that Rachel catches on to this And kills David?… Or did David kill ryan (his business partner-to stop the spending) and then Mary when she was on to him and then Rachel kills him when she figures it out and goes on run to hide from whoever they owe money to? However, if this was the answer it would open more questions… In the end it all makes sense and you are rewarded with closure to a well plotted thriller. I definitely recommend this novel!
Andy Drake is a thriller author. He moves back to his hometown after a failed marriage to help take care of his father who is in the early stages of dementia. He reconnects with a childhood friend, Rachel, and this connection turns into a secret love affair that lasts six months. Rachel is married to the son of one of the town’s most prominent families, and they have two children together, and the marriage is falling apart as fast as her husband’s business. One morning, Andy finds a note on his door telling him to end the affair OR ELSE. Shortly after getting the note, Rachel’s husband is found dead and Rachel and her kids disappear. Desperate to find answers, Andy starts an investigation of his own. What he discovers is everyone has a secret, and some will kill to keep them from coming to light.
As thrillers go, this one was a good read. Not fantastic, but not bad either. The writing is good and the pace is consistent. What makes this book shine is the family dynamic the main character has, and how he tries to balance this dynamic while he investigates what is going on. If you pay attention, and I mean REALLY pay attention, you can figure out what is going on by the end of the book. The clues are there, and there is no sudden introduction of a character to tie this up just to end it.
The main drawback for me is that I felt like I read this book before, but that is because I am well versed in this subgenre.
I give this book 4 bookmarks out of 5!
Top reviews from other countries
This is a very entertaining story with Andy usually acting on impulse rather than common sense . It seems everyone living in the Loop has their own story and Andy's feuding dysfunctional family add to the mix of a tale that borders on the farcical at times but is great fun as well as being a good murder mystery with the now compulsory twists.
It's not quite a 5 star book for me,there was a big scene that I wasn't convinced by but I'd go to a 4.5 if I could. It's quirky,fun and even touching in places where serious matters are addressed. Andy is a flawed character who doesn't always get it right.....far from it,which all part of it's charm.
Firstly, who on earth writes an anonymous, threatening note with the words ‘Do as I say or else’? It’s the sort of thing a kid would say and most adults wouldn’t take it that seriously. There were quite a few red herrings along the way but they were obvious. I didn’t feel the characters come to life, they were a bit bland and I couldn’t picture who would play them for a TV drama, and I certainly didn’t feel the passion between Andy and Rachel.
The writing was a bit clunky with lots of short punchy sentences which didn’t flow for me. At night, the end of a chapter is usually a good point for me to turn off the light and go to sleep. But when I picked up one evening, the next chapter started with the paragraph ‘At least a part of me had.’ That’s it! I had to go back and re-read the previous page of the last chapter. The majority of the book is written in the first person, i.e. Andy, the protagonist, but occasionally this slips into the second person as if Adam is talking to or about himself.
I'm unlikely to have downloaded this book normally, but it seemed the best of the Amazon First choices this month. Overall, I just didn’t find it that thrilling, I found the whole plot a bit boring and I was quite relieved to finish it. Sorry Joe, it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read but it just wasn’t for me.
Andy is an author who is having an affair with his neighbour, Rachael. Andy’s father has dementia. Rachael’s husband, David, is in business with Ryan and the business has money problems. David and Ryan are killed. On the same day as David’s death, Rachael and their two children are missing. Andy investigates since the police seemingly are not too interested. Andy uses his writing ideas to create answers as to who may be responsible. Obviously there’s more details but that’s about it as a synopsis and it’s wishy washy.
I was distracted, many times, from my reading of this book as it just didn’t appeal to me; lacklustre.
Andy has returned home to care for his father who is in the early stages of dementia. He reconnects with his childhood friend Rachel and they start an affair behind the back of her emotionally abusive husband David. One day, he finds a note warning him off her, telling him that it must stop. Or Else. But then, soon after, Rachel's husband is shot dead and she and her children missing.
Not trusting the police, Andy takes it upon himself to try and find out what happened to David, and in turn, where Rachel and the children have gone. Have they been taken or did they flee? Are they safe? Or has the worst happened?
And Andy believes that only he can get to the bottom of things. But in doing so, he skirts and crosses lines he really shouldn't, putting himself in more danger than he ever knew. But it is something that he just has to do...
Oh my days, this hit the ground running from the start and didn't let up until the very end. Delivering shock after twist along the way, culminating in a perfect satisfying ending.
Only thing I wasn't convinced of was Andy's need to go back and look after his father who appeared perfectly well capable of doing that himself, thus allowing Andy free reign to gad about willy nilly!
There are twists and turns aplenty and more than a healthy dollop of duplicitous behaviour to be found herein. We also have a very eclectic mix of characters who were all well drawn and easy to connect with in some way. I especially liked that Andy was an author and kept referring to his writing in more than humorous observational ways. Plotting was good and kept me on my toes throughout. And the ending when it came, made perfect sense and wrapped things up nicely.
All in all, another winner from an author already on my watch list. Roll on next time. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
He has written some nice characters who were very likeable people in the main. There are also some moments that had me chuckling along to myself. I had wondered all the way through how old Andy was and this was never revealed till we are 85% in, however...I finally figured he is 34 in case anyone else is wondering.
The one thing that REALLY got my back up was hearing how many times Andy was feeling sick or nauseous.....it is mentioned a LOT !! It's 'like he has vomit on the brain' was a note I made only 34% into it. Chardonnay-glazed needed to be written like this, too. Every time he wrote farmers market he dropped the apostrophe, too-something else that had me gritting my teeth in frustration.
As I say, the story is interesting and I read it quickly but I'm not sure I'd rush to buy another by him.