PARTING SHOT (Promise Falls #4) - by Linwood Barclay

PARTING SHOT - Linwood Barclay
Published: 2017 - by Orion.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary / crime
Pages: 490.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mature themes / Chapter 14 is extremely disturbing and graphic
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
After a tragedy rocks the community of Promise Falls, Cal Weaver is asked to investigate the threats being made to the accused's family. He's heard all about Jeremy on the news: the young man who drank too much, stole a Porsche and killed a girl, and who claimed afterwards not to remember a single thing. It seems an open and shut case, but for reasons he can't explain he accepts the job. Soon Cal finds himself caught up in a vicious revenge plot, and it's only a matter of time before threats turn into action . . .

This is the fourth book in the series, but despite missing a bit of background from the two recurring main characters, I think it can be read as a standalone. I didn't feel like I was missing much.

The writing is good. I love the strong language, the strong mental pictures I got from each scene, and I love the details the author scatters so meticulously. The dialogue is brilliant, too, and it crackles with pitch-perfect characterisation. Every character's voice comes through sharply. It's wonderful.
The story is an absolute rollercoaster of thrills and lies and betrayal. It's so fast-paced and literally impossible to put down. Every scene grips you, tempts you with what could come, and locks you in the situation the characters are experiencing on the page.  It's insanely gripping, and easy-to-read.
But the twists. Oh my word the twists. I guessed one near the start, but that was it. The rest of the book shocked me and continued to shock me, literally stealing the breath from my lungs and leaving me reeling. It's unpredictable in the most natural way. Just when you think you have it figured out, new information arises or a character whom you weren't expecting makes a reappearance. It's utterly jaw-dropping.

Every crime has its consequences. Every town has its secrets.

This book is very character-driven. Every character is immediately three-dimensional and vivid, and I love all the twisty relationships, family dynamics, and romantic entanglements. Everyone is so human and so flawed that to watch their fallible nature take them into dark places is both extraordinary and relatable. They all have their secrets, and they're all prepared to do whatever it takes to keep them. It makes for a brilliant story. 

But the cast is way too big. Once I'm in a scene and reading, I have a grasp on who everyone is in that scene, but as soon as the scene switches I have to kind of "reassess" in my mind as new characters take over. And new characters keep getting introduced! All the time. My mind got scrambled trying to remember everyone. To make it worse, there are two different storylines running alongside each other for most of the book, and each storyline has a huge group of characters. I was constantly getting them mixed up. It's hard to keep track of everyone. 
But I do feel a bit conflicted. I think every character is well-written and is vivid, and everyone is distinct. So I guess the problem isn't that all the characters aren't vivid or distinct enough, it's simply that there're too many people in the book. 

Parting Shot is a thrilling ride from start to finish. The tension never lets up, the twists never stop coming, and the characters are all flawed, human, compelling people.
Prepare to spend a day in this thriller's clutches. 

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