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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 0 books toward her goal of 200 books.
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Book Review: Say Nothing by Brad Parks

WHOA! I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read this one – I have a tendency to avoid books about danger or damage to children, especially toddlers. I was sent the widget as a courtesy after agreeing to post a promotional piece about the book on my blog, and was not sure I’d actually read it. I wasn’t familiar with Brad Parks beyond his name and reputation for legal thrillers – another category I don’t tend toward, since I am a lawyer. But I thought I’d give it a look nevertheless, since the idea of the unbelievable “choice” facing Judge Sampson repeatedly teased at the corners of my mind despite myself.

Parks writes what I have come to think of as a standard best-selling legal thriller. That’s not a slam or complaint. There’s a bit of a formula that (to my mind) Scott Turow started years ago – the components include just-this-side-of-Everyman characters, wild twists and turns, just enough legal jargon to make the book feel authentic without so much that it loses anyone in the details, and solid and engaging (almost conversational) writing. Those are all good things – and if every successful legal thriller follows that formula, that’s because it’s a formula that works. But make no mistake, it can’t be an easy formula to follow – most notably, I think, because of that last element, but also because of the second item I listed. There are so many books in this genre now, that it must be getting exceedingly more difficult to keep coming up with twists that feel original (or at least, original in their context and details) and surprising… And of course, writing in a strong, clear, concise, entertaining voice has always been much harder than it sounds. So formulaic concept aside, there is still a LOT of skill involved in crafting books like this one, and authors like Parks (or old-school Turow) deserve credit for not only doing it, but doing it repeatedly.

I’m glad I gave the book a chance. It’s well-written and engaging – and absolutely horrifying. Our families are often our sources of greatest strength – and also, of course, our most profound weakness. The stark nature of every parent’s worst nightmare – having their children taken – was devastating to read, as was the spiraling paranoia that I can only imagine inevitably follows in such a scenario. I found myself shouting out loud at the empty room and groaning in frustration repeatedly during the course of reading. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do in such a horridly unwinnable set of circumstances. And I couldn’t stop turning pages…

My review copy was provided by NetGalley.

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