Monday, August 11, 2014
Review: One of Us by Tawni O'Dell
I have been waiting to read another Tawni O'Dell book since I was in high school. It is there I became a fan after reading, and loving, her Oprah approved debut Back Roads. Yes, I know I've missed a few of her others along the way but I'm happy that this book, One of Us placed me back on the O'Dell wagon.
Forensic psychologist Sheridan Doyle a.k.a., Danny, returns to his home town Lost Creek to care for his aging, sick grandfather. Shortly after returning he comes across a dead body in the gallows. The gallows attracts crowds hoping to find paranormal activity because of the hanging of four coal miners named Nellies. It's clear that either the Nellies are up to some paranormal revenge or there could in fact be a killer on the loose. I'm betting on the latter.
Danny begins to investigate the crime with Detective Rafe, his childhood father figure. After another mysterious murder occurs, they both hone in on a killer that has no moral compass and is more evil than any character I've read in quite a while. As Danny puts together the pieces to the towns mysteries, he learns that his own past may be colliding head on with the future.
Let's begin by saying, One of Us is exceptionally engulfing. It's the type of novel you can begin and finish in a day. It moves along with a pace that does not slow for anyone. O'Dell also manages to provide readers with intelligent characters. There isn't one character who doesn't know the culprit, therefore sparing readers of smoke and mirrors. There's nothing worse than an oblivious protagonist that you just want to shout at to get a grip when clues are looking them right in their face.
While on the subject of characters, I don't know who's more F-ed up. Quite possibly it's Danny, his psycho mom who's been prosecuted for killing his sister, or the actual villain. I couldn't stop thinking once that old saying "doctor heal thyself". Danny still carries the weight of his childhood everywhere he goes. Even after becoming a successful forensic psychologist and appearing as a witness in very high profile cases, he can't seem to shake the scared child he once was. Bullied for being a child of a baby-killer is one obstacle he is unable to overcome.
Many of the characters in One of Us are as damaged as the mines they work. This town has little going for it except the mines and the paranormal attraction of the gallows. There is no beauty anywhere which is why O'Dell made a point of annoyinglydropping every designer name in the book. FYI, poor people can't tell the difference between an Yves Saint Laurent or a Wal-Mart clearance item. I certainly can't. There was no need to reference the clothing of Danny's or his antagonist in every chapter. Seriously!
Overall, One of Us is a fun read. Tawni O'Dell has reclaimed her throne in my mind and I will go back to read the ones I've missed since her debut. I highly recommend fans of psychological suspense to read One of Us. I'm certain after reading there's no easy way to run from the past, the truth, or who we really are. ****
Copy provided by Simon & Schuster via Netgalley