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Chance, Alex - 'The Final Days'
Hardback: 496 pages (Apr. 2008) Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd ISBN: 0434017752

This debut novel by Alex Chance boldly claims to be "the most chilling thriller since THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS". It is set in Utah and San Francisco - with kidnapping and attempted murder taking place in the former, threatening letters being received in the latter and one sinister, crazed, mad-man responsible for both.

Jon Peterson is controlled by demons. Urged on by their relentless voices he wants Karen Wiley dead but we don't find out why until the very end of the book. Fairly soon the disturbing letters he sends her are replaced with boxes of body parts and her life, that she has been painstakingly rebuilding after a messy divorce, starts to come apart at the seams. Her initial plan of ignoring everything does no good and, since the police do not take her concerns seriously, she is eventually compelled to travel to Utah to solve the seemingly random kidnapping of young Katy Trueblood before any more of her body parts turn up.

At times this book works extremely well: The scene, for example, where Jon breaks into Karen's flat while she is sleeping and contemplates her murder gets the blood racing a little but most of it falls short. Having said that, the basic idea behind the story is a good one - even if it is a little too tidily resolved - but the characters are not thoroughly enough developed, seem by sheer coincidence to always be in the right place at the right time and/or are too quickly and easily redeemed from their past sins by fallout from current situations. The ending of the book suggests that it is the start of a series about Karen Wiley and her newfound talent for solving crimes. This despite the fact she spends most of her time ignoring the letters, contacting her therapist and anguishing over her guilty memories of her long-dead sister.

"The most chilling thriller since THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS"? Not even close.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
April 2008

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 10/03/2011 20:10