Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FEAR THE WORST by LINWOOD BARCLAY

As Fear the Worst opens divorced dad Tim Blake is having a minor domestic spat with his teen-age daughter. Just pages later she is missing, and a whole sequence of thriller cliches is ratcheted into place.

Sydney, the daughter, is unknown by her supposed co-workers at the seedy hotel she's told her dad she'd been working in all summer. Tim, unable to handle the pressure of events, alienates his boss, his co-workers, his ex-wife, his girlfriend. Bigger and nastier goings-on are uncovered. None of it is believable (forget plausible).

Genre fiction--even great genre fiction--is frequently based on cliche, and the events in them are often unbelievable. However, in the hands of a master writer--or, at least, of one with a diligent editor--there are still thrills and fun to be had. Not here, I'm afraid. And this is a major disappointment, as Linwood Barclay's last two novels have been both original and exciting.

Maybe next time.

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