It took me a little while to start reading The Necklace, a thriller written by Matt Witten, and a little while more to gather my thoughts.
What attracted me was the blurb—a courageous mother, grief-stricken but not broken, demanding justice for her daughter—so I was expecting a fast-paced, gasp-inducing read.
For the most part, my expectations were met 😀
Susan Lentigo’s daughter was murdered twenty years ago—and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer’s execution.
On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent—and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who’s at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.
Cover: The creepy undertone does it. Look at the contrast between the necklace, maybe the real protagonist of the story, and the background.
- TN follows the journey of Susan, a woman who lost her daughter to a heinous crime. While traveling to North Dakota to witness the execution of the murderer, she comes across new evidence that would clear his name, meaning that the murderer is someone else. As Matt says in the end, his novel is based on a true story. Mad respect. I’ve always believed it takes a lot of courage to do that.
- It’s fast-paced, just as I was expecting it to be. A good thriller needs that, no beating around the bushes. There are slower spots, too, and they balance the whole plot out. Even if I’m not a fan of different timelines, I have to admit that in this case, it’s a good choice. It helps with the structure and keeps the reader hooked.
- Oh, the clues about the real culprit. They’re there from the very beginning, but they’re subtle enough to go unnoticed. Good job!
- Characters-wise, I really like Agent Pappas. He makes a huge mistake and he’s willing to correct it, saving the life of an innocent person. How many people would do that, telling the world that hey, ops, I kinda messed up and let a rapist and murderer go?
- The main issue I have with TN is about the characters. Some are a bit too stereotyped for me, like Susan or Kyra. I would have liked to see more nuances and complexities rather than, say, a middle-aged woman who’s unable to use a smartphone or a tattooed teenager with a heart of gold.
- Some plot points are left hanging. The first one that comes to mind is Susan’s speculations about Danny’s hunting trips, mentioned once and never brought up again.
- Susan tends to be all over the place. While it’s understandable, given what she went and goes through, there are moments where the grieving that should develop in months feels– compressed?
- Some words/concepts usage don’t really work for me. ‘She pointed at the mugshot, excited’ or ‘got excited about [the shoe prints]’ while talking about the details of her daughter’s gruesome murder don’t convey seriousness or grieving.
3 stars on GR. The story itself has potential, but it needs to be a little more polished.