- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 2 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HarperAudio
- Audible.com Release Date: December 1, 2015
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0176YSUEU
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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What She Knew: A Novel Audiobook – Unabridged
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- Characters disappear (Peter, though extensively described early in the book, never appears again, as if he had originally played a part in the story, and the early investment was never reviewed after the character was cut; John is left in a coma in hospital - and then never mentioned again until a brief two sentences in the epilogue indicate that he has apparently awoken.)
- The mechanism of the psychiatrist's notebook, which could have been extremely clever, falls flat. The psychiatrist continually adds notes that simply don't ring true for a professional's observations on a patient ("he's got me interested..."), and reveal what is, at best, a pretty questionable therapeutic path. The counselor - supposedly required to deal with the police officer's prior trauma - spends a great deal of time fishing for background details of the investigation, while almost wholly ignoring significant and potentially traumatic items brought into the conversation. A partial, early memory is skimmed over, without the counselor expressing much interest in whether it was "merely" an indicator of abuse, or represents a significant inner conflict about the nature of his father's career, despite the heavy-handed statement the image presents on integrity.
- The author repeatedly changes references mid paragraph (for example, the boy's parents hold hands, and the mother-narrator connects that to the first time she held hands with the boy's father, a week after they met. The author then spends a page telling the story of how they met, rather than of that first hand-holding [to be fair: she does get to that eventually too - but the practice of changing referents mid-sentence or -paragraph repeats in other areas).
The meandering narrative and poor content editing made what should have been a very satisfying story into an endless slog. I never did connect the title (though I did read somewhere that it has been published under another name) Definitely read it - but try the Cliff's Notes version, or wait until a second edition that has seen a significant editorial review. I'll be deleting this one from my collection here on Amazon.
While I didn't hate this book, I didn't love it, either. It took me a little longer to finish than most books. For me, it was not a page turner whodunit. My first problem is with the protagonist. I didn't like her. I knew what the author was trying to do with her, as I have tried to write an "unreliable narrator" before myself. It is hard to do and most times, it just leaves the reader not being able to empathize with the MC. That's what happened here. There was nothing redeeming about Rachel and her voice wasn't one I connected with. I will say this, I didn't blame her for her son's disappearance as we might have been expected to do, but I just felt that she was flat and one-sided. The one character who was well-developed was DI Clemo. It seemed to me that he was the real MC of this book and I liked him much more than Rachel.
Next, the writing was not amazing. As a writer myself, I try not to be too hard on debut authors. And she wasn't horrible. It was just...good, not great. She must have had a great editor, because I saw no errors or issues with the technical side of the writing. I just didn't feel anxious to keep reading. She used a few "big words" but not enough to make it literary in nature. They just seemed to be contrived and unnecessary. Like saying "hey! I know how to use big words!" I try to avoid that and she should have, too.
Then there's the plot itself. There was nothing unique about this story. Boy goes missing, people search for boy, somewhat unexpected (although not entirely) character winds up being the bad guy. I can't say I saw it coming, so I'll give her that. She held out until the bitter end to reveal the kidnapper. But there was just nothing original about the storyline. When I read suspense/thrillers, I want plot twists and turns around every corner, at the end of every chapter, something to keep me reading. That didn't happen here. And the end was so long and drawn out (I'd say the last 3-4 chapters after the conflict is resolved), I skimmed/speed-read it just to get to the end, hoping there was going to be another plot twist at the very end, but there wasn't. We just got several chapters of Rachel telling us how everything wrapped up nicely in the end. I don't like those kinds of endings, not in a suspense/thriller novel. I want to be guessing and turning pages to the very end. I like a book (and try to write mine this way) that keeps you hanging on until THE END. This just wasn't written that way. It was a lot of verbose information dumping.
That's about it, I guess. In a nutshell, it's not a horrible novel. I've read much, much worse. And I have seen some people on here criticizing the British language/wording. That's just stupid. She's from London, so she uses British colloquialisms. Deal with it. It wasn't that hard to figure out what things meant. But I guess to end this review, I'll say that I was underwhelmed. It was a nice read...something I would have read on the beach during the summer, nothing too complicated. But if you're really looking for a great suspense/thriller that will keep you up at night and guessing to the very end, this is not the book for you. BUT I WILL STRESS...I think this author has potential. Maybe she'll learn from this book and either market the next one just as women's fiction (not suspense/thriller) or actually write a book that has all the elements we readers want to enthrall us. It's a good start if you don't expect to be surprised and shocked. I will probably give her another chance on her next book, hoping she gets better with time. After all, Sharp Objects and Dark Places were nothing compared to Gillian Flynn's third book, Gone Girl. Which, by the way, this book should NEVER be compared to. And I really wish every suspense/thriller written by a woman would stop describing itself as akin to Gone Girl. There is not and probably never will be a book as good as Gone Girl.
End of Rant