Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How To Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler

How To Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler
Release Date - June 14, 2016
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed?—and the boy who’s sent to kill her.

Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she’s pretty sure she can get away with anything...until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette’s house. Which is why she has to disappear.

Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A’s and athletic trophies can’t make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.

As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.
I am a huge fan of novels with unreliable narrators. I went in expecting How To Disappear to feature one such character. Nicolette loosely fits that descriptor, but it was the other elements to this mystery that caught my attention.

It is hard to review a mystery novel. You cannot really discuss what makes it so engaging without giving away plot points that should be discovered by the reader. This is true of How To Disappear. It is the type of book that is made enjoyable by following the story as it progresses and discovering the secrets of both the characters and novel itself.

There is a tension that is taunt almost from the moment you start reading. The opening pages are designed to grab you and keep you hooked. It works and works incredibly well. This is a fast paced read that has its 400+ page count flying by. Everything is timed and spaced evenly so that the beginning, middle and end all feel equally compelling. It's hard to do in a mystery novel while making the mystery last and Anne Redisch Stampler has pulled it off wonderfully here.

This is a fun book to read, as odd as the subject matter may make that sound. There is something addictive about not only the mystery but the writing style. The addition of crime family elements, blackmail, secrets, lies and murder only serve to increase the reader's consuming need to finish the story to get to the truth. A mystery should be the definition of a page turner and this one was. The reader will want to unravel every last secret of this plot.

Nicolette and Jack are combustible together. There is this instant attraction that feels purely sexual at first. The author allows smaller moments for us to see walls coming down and a real connection being made, but the sparks that fly at first are purely physical. The secrets between them, and the fact that they are very much the product of their parentage, creates a tension between them that definitely makes this a potentially dangerous relationship. While they are not spies there was something very Mr and Mrs Smith about their relationship and that worked for the story being told.

The ending, for me, was a little hit and miss. I appreciated the direction the ending took us in and the light it shined on the previous events, but I don't know if it felt like the ending to this story. It was the only element that, for me, felt a little disjointed even as I enjoyed the story on the whole.

A fast paced, twisty murder mystery that boasts a ton of sexually charged chemistry. If you're in need of a book for the beach this summer and don't want your standard contemporary romance, this will certainly satisfy. 

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