Written by Linwood Barclay
Random House / Bantam Books, 2009
This review refers to an advance reader's copy of the book.
From the publisher's description (Random House Canada website):
Seventeen-year-old Sydney Blake’s summer is shaping up to be typical for a teenager: she’s spending it with her father, and she has landed a part-time job at a local hotel. One night, Syd fails to come home from her shift, and her father Tim is a bit alarmed. However, that alarm turns to full-on panic after he visits the Just Inn Time hotel and the manager claims that Syd has never worked there. Grilling his daughter’s friends for clues leads Tim nowhere – except to threats against his life – and as he frantically chases every lead, he can’t help but wonder if Syd is even still alive. Despite a growing list of unanswered questions, all Tim knows for certain is that he must continue searching for his daughter – no matter how high the stakes become.
This book kept me up way too late. But that's a good thing. I love it when a book has me sitting there, cruising through the pages at 2AM. And right from the start, I knew Linwood Barclay's Fear the Worst was going to be one of those wee hours books. I finished it in just a couple of sittings, and for a snail's pace reader like myself, that's a remarkable tribute to a wonderfully exciting read.
The book had plenty of plot twists and surprises, and the suspense factor was pretty high all the way through. And only one of my suspects turned out to be involved in the crime, so I would give this one high marks on the whodunit scale. Plus, I really came to like Tim Blake during the course of the novel. He was very human and therefore slightly flawed, but he was completely believable in his fury and desperation over his daughter's mysterious disappearance. But he wasn't the only attractive or interesting character in the book – in fact, they were all interesting. This isn't one of those books where all the minor characters seem like interchangeable parts. Barclay has a way of creating personalities with just a short description or a few lines of dialogue, while making each one distinct and fascinating. Just like real people.
The one complaint I have is that I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. It's not that the ending isn't satisfying – it is. But the mystery really builds right up to the final few pages. I would have welcomed another short chapter or epilogue – just something to let us readers decompress and maybe find out what happened after the big reveal. Well, it's great when a book leaves you wanting more, isn't it?
I read an ARC of the book, so I'm going to play by the rules and not include any quotes. Too bad, because for a book about a really horrendous subject, there's quite a lot of humor along the way – although it can be a little dark, of course. Especially that part about the blow-up doll. OK, that's all I'm gonna say about that. You'll have to read the book to find out more. And I recommend you do just that.