Monday, 4 March 2013

Review: Betrayal by Gregg Olsen

Fab YA supernaturally-enhanced crime thriller  

I greatly enjoyed Envy, the first in the Empty Coffin series, and found this to be a brilliant follow up. If you haven't read the first one, you may want to check my review of that one instead. I won't have spoilers for Betrayal here, but can't guarantee to avoid them for Envy.

Again, the novel opens with a crime: this time, the brutal stabbing of an exchange student at a Halloween party. We see all the details except the killer's identity, and are then party to the investigation carried out by the Ryan twins, Hayley and Taylor, who share secret psychic/intuitive skills. The writing is detached and very cinematic in feel, as it's descriptive and moves seamlessly between scenes and different characters' perspectives. There are traces of an omniscient narrator, commenting on the personalities of the characters, but this feels interesting and relevant rather than intrusive.

I particularly appreciated the additional insights into the twins' abilities and their history. In Envy, we had learnt about the weird feelings the girls have, and the information they can get access to. We also learnt (along with them) that there were others who knew about their gifts, and this novel develops their backstory further. This information is drip-fed in a natural way through the story and provides an interesting sub-plot which I hope will be taken further with future instalments in the series.

As well as learning more about the supernatural angle, this novel also gives us more insight into the twins' characters, their relationship and other characters in the town of Port Gamble, aka Empty Coffin. I was happy to see more of the girls' friend Beth Lee, and to gain more insight into the twins' family. It's great to read a series book that feels like revisiting a set of friends, and this definitely achieves that for me.

This is still a crime thriller first and foremost and the plotting doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of red herrings and clues to pick through and it wasn't clear to me exactly what had happened and why until the big reveal. As with Envy, I also appreciated the 'true crime' info at the end (some aspects of the story came from the Amanda Knox case).

Overall, this is another hit for YA crime readers, and for those who enjoy stories with a supernatural flavour.

From the Back Cover:

It happened so fast, the way awful things almost always do. The mattress sagged under the weight of another person kneeling on the bed. The first cut wasn't the deepest. It was tentative, a slight jab.

Her manicured fingertips found her abdomen. She barely had time to process the fact that her hand was wet.

The blade of a knife flew at her, burying itself in her throat. It came with speed and fury. Only her killer knew the irony of her last words. That bloody hurts.

Published September 2012 by Splinter
Find more info at Goodreads
My grateful thanks go to the publisher for sending a review copy

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