Thanks to the lovely Lauren, representing publisher Aria/Aries Fiction for inviting me onto this Blog Tour
Appreciation also to the great team at NetGalley for the super smooth download
EVERY LAST FEAR
In one of the year’s most anticipated debut psychological thrillers, a family made infamous by a true crime documentary is found dead, leaving their surviving son to uncover the truth about their final days.
“They found the bodies on a Tuesday.” So begins this twisty and breathtaking novel that traces the fate of the Pine family, a thriller that will both leave you on the edge of your seat and move you to tears.
After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.
The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.
When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.
Told through multiple points-of-view and alternating between past and present, Alex Finlay’s Every Last Fear is not only a page-turning thriller, it’s also a poignant story about a family managing heartbreak and tragedy, and living through a fame they never wanted.
Born in the American South, Alex spent years traversing the globe, from a tropical island in the Pacific to a small village in the UK to a remote region in the Far East.
But it was on a trip to Tulum, Mexico that Alex was inspired to write Every Last Fear.
“My story isn’t all that interesting, so the pseudonym is a way to write without fear or concern about success, failure or expectations”
You can keep up to date with Alex’s latest news at his website
You can connect with Alex on Facebook
“They found the bodies on a Tuesday. Two days after the family had missed their flight home. Six days after all texts and social media had gone dark. The last post was a selfie saying they’d arrived in Mexico: the dad and mom making exaggerated duck faces, the teenage girl pink-cheeked and mortified, the little boy wearing plastic sunglasses and a gap-toothed smile”
CHAPTER ONE – MATT PINE
“Rough night? You look like you slept out here with us.’
Matt studied the chessboard, ignoring the weathered black man sitting across from him at the battered table in Washington Square Park.
‘Ain’t you cold? Where’s your coat?’
‘Shush, Reggie,’ Matt said, waving the questions away with a hand. ‘I’m trying to concentrate.’ He continued to plot his move on the board. A cool morning breeze pushed through the park, and Matt rubbed his hands together from the chill. It was way too cold for April.
Reggie made a sound of amusement in his throat. ‘Take all day. Ain’t gonna matter.’
In two years Matt hadn’t won a single game against the West Village’s homeless Bobby Fischer”
“Evan had once read about dry drowning, a person slowly dying hours or even days after leaving the water. That’s how he’d felt for the past seven years, oxygen slowly being stolen from his damaged insides”
“The elusive hunt for happiness,” Matt said. God knows Matt had been on that pursuit for some time. Even before, he wouldn’t say he’d been depressed or even sad. Despite the friction, he always knew his family loved him. He had close friends he cared about and who cared about him. He had, for all intents and purposes. a privileged life. But there was always this hollowed-out feeling in his chest he hadn’t been able to shake since Year Zero”
“A phone call. When was the last time she’d made one of those to someone other than her parents? Such an antiquated method of communication. But it’s what you did if you didn’t want to write something down – if you didn’t want a written record – if you were going to do something illegal”
“Never underestimate the power of a creep with too much time on his hands”
“They found the bodies on a Tuesday”
No Way! You are never going to convince me that this is a debut novel by a new author! This just has to be an established and successful writer, who has chosen a pseudonym for this particular project. ‘Every Last Fear‘ is just too slick and polished, written and nuanced at the hand of someone who has total authority and confidence over the storyline and characters as they hit the pages! I am growing to like this new trend of blended fact and fiction novels more and more, so I checked out the recorded articles surrounding the case featured in the documentary, which makes a great basis for the unique storyline Alex has skilfully wrapped around it.
Alex makes things potentially tricky for himself by writing the story in dual timelines, but not in any pre-organised sequence; and having it narrated in multiple voices. All of which could have made the finished book potentially complicated to follow and somewhat disjointed. No chance of that here though, the well constructed storyline moves along at a cracking pace, the chapters are kept short and are well signposted, each with a timeline and the voice of the person speaking, which keeps everything effortlessly fluid and easy on the eye and, more importantly, seamless for my frazzled little brain. Because that’s about the only thing which is easy to follow, in this multi-layered, intensely textured story. The rich atmosphere is kept at a constant boiling point and nothing about this page-turner made me feel comfortable or at ease with the disturbing situation in which poor Matt Pine finds himself embroiled.
There are more twists and turns in this compelling plot than you can shake a stick at and although I might have had an inkling about what was going on and who my top suspects were, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to lay my cards on the table too early, which is just as well, as in the end I was only partially correct. What starts out as two seemingly unrelated events, the incarceration of Matt’s older brother Danny for murder, and the apparent accidental death of the remainder of Matt’s family in Mexico, are all too soon set on a collision course so serious that they attract the attention of the FBI, although agent Keller adds yet another layer to the already toxic mix, that of corruption. She is however the one solid rock of a person, young Matt can turn to when events begin to spiral out of control and threaten to overwhelm him. She brings a compelling brand of compassion and collaborative thinking to these high profile cases, even when small town politics threaten to thwart her investigation and block her pathway to the truth.
It is Matt himself, who eventually works out the sickening truth about who needs to be held accountable and responsible for trying to eliminate his entire family, including himself, living to tell the tale, but only by the skin of his teeth. The closure for Matt is almost bittersweet, as losing his parents and two younger siblings, brings him closer than he has ever been to his errant elder brother and helps to heal both their wounds. So many lies and secrets, so much manipulation and duplicity, so much abuse of power. And from Matt’s father an unexpected forgiveness, which all comes too late for the family and leaves Matt and Danny never knowing the full truth, which is probably just as well.
The narrative and dialogue are crisp, rich in detail, visually descriptive and totally immersive, as the dynamics of the story change again and again. An excellent cast of well drawn and defined characters also help to keep everything running smoothly, with some good synergy and and exchanges between them. They are genuine and believable, passionate and vulnerable, yet often not easy to connect with, although I found that I could invest totally in them all. FBI agent, Sarah Keller, stood out from the crowd and I could see the potential for her to star in her own series! I realise that the story was already based on a televised documentary, however I can see the potential for this adapted version to be optioned for film.
A complimentary kindle download of this book, for review purposes, was made available by the publisher, and supplied by NetGalley
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!