on September 8th 2016
For fans of Twin Peaks and The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, this brilliant debut is dark yet hilarious, suspenseful and sad.
Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .
When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town.
Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.
Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.
Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.
Photographer Jerry, who's determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.
And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own . . .
In Chris Whitaker's brilliant and original debut novel, missing persons, secret identities and dangerous lies abound in a town as idiosyncratic as its inhabitants.
I was really looking forward to this book, based not only on the description, but the outstanding reviews; many of which came from trusted fellow bloggers and Goodreads friends. I’m always a little insecure when my opinion is so different but I suppose it’s bound to happen now and then. After all, we can’t be expected to agree on every book, right??
Tall Oakes started out well enough. A creepy clown and a missing child made for a gut wrenching and suspenseful beginning. Sadly, the feeling didn’t last. At about the 25% mark, things started feeling a bit flat. I found many of the characters, but certainly not all, to be a bit cliché and one dimensional. The plot was well-paced and delivered the promised slew of suspects, but didn’t deliver the twists and turns necessary to keep me on the edge of my seat. The ending was both far fetched and predictable which was very disappointing.
There were many elements of this book that, alone or in combination with a few other elements, would have worked nicely. However, the number of them all together in one book just made it implausible. Believability is important to me as a reader. I understand that it’s not that important to every reader. In fairness to the book, perhaps my experience in reading it would have been different if I were simply looking to get lost in a unique story.
While some aspects of Tall Oaks didn’t quite work for me, I thought it was a solid debut from a promising author. Chris Whitaker has an imagination most writers would love to have. This can be a bit of a Catch-22. I can only imagine that toning it down would just as difficult for someone like him as it would be for me to come up with this stuff.
Many thanks to Twenty7 via NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.