Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What She Left

What She Left by T.R. Richmond
Simon & Schuster: 1/12/16
eBook review copy; 336 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781476773841

What She Left by T.R. Richmond is a recommended thriller told through emails, blog and diary entries, articles, letters, tweets, Facebook messages, text messages, voice mail, interviews, Spotify playlists, and email.

Anthropology Professor Jeremy Cooke is collecting information, digital and written, about the life of his former student and the daughter of a former lover. He plans to collect all these artifacts of the modern age and piece them together for a book about her life. The young woman of his obsession is twenty-five-year-old reporter, Alice Salmon. Her body was found on a Southampton riverbank and the investigation is trying to determine if her death was an accident, suicide, or something more sinister.

Slowly the real Alice Salmon is revealed in Cooke's collection of information, which is damning and casts suspicions toward Cooke and others. At the same time, the line between research and obsession is blurred. A large part of the story is not composed of what Alice left behind but is told through letters Cooke writes to a friend. Everything Cooke discovers is dated so readers can tell when various bits of information are discovered.

What She Left had a lot of potential. It is well written and I initially enjoyed it. The use of digital clues is quite intriguing - this is what originally captivated me. There are several suspects and a surprise ending, which I didn't see coming. I certainly don't regret reading it and look forward to the next book by Richmond.

The problem I had with the novel was the fact that by the time I was over half way through it all the characters were beginning to get on my nerves and I didn't care quite as much what really happened to Alice. Cooke's letters compose a large part of what began to become grating in the story. Combining his rather whining tone in his (endless) letters with the fragments that comprise telling the story of a life largely through digital detritus, left me removed from ultimately caring what happened.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Simon & Schuster for review purposes.

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