Far From True by Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay has been on the list of authors I’ve wanted to read for a long time. Far From True was my first book by him and I was blown away. Barclay is an outstanding writer and this is a great book.

Far From True is the second book in the Promise Falls Trilogy. The first book is Broken Promise and the trilogy concludes with the forthcoming The Twenty-Three. The series is probably best read in order, although I started by listening to the second volume and didn’t feel like I was lost. Events from the first book are related in enough detail to fill you in on the characters background. There are some spoilers though if that bothers you.

The events of Far From True begin with the collapse of a drive-in movie theater screen that kills four people. The screen turns out to be a giant domino whose falling kicks over a bunch of secrets that some people are desperate to make sure don’t become public. Cal Weaver is hired by the daughter of one of the victims to investigate a break-in at her father’s house where a secret room and some missing DVDs are found.

Detective Barry Duckworth is investigating the drive-in accident while at the same time trying to solve two murders that may be connected. The investigation becomes more complicated and dangerous as people go to greater lengths to maintain their secrets.

Barclay does an amazing job of laying down several different, seemingly unrelated, plot threads and slowly weaving them together in an amazing tapestry. He works with a sizable cast of characters without giving any of them short shrift. Relationships, both personal and professional are portrayed in all their complicated aspects. Along with Cal Weaver and Barry Duckworth, we get to know a former mayor who wants his old job back along with the beleaguered ex-reporter running his campaign, the daughter of one of the drive-in victims and her gifted daughter who is on the spectrum, a struggling single mother trying to protect her child from the child’s conniving grandparents, and several other characters.

Barclay manages to invent these great characters, including some that you hate. And I mean really, really hate. Even if you are not sure they actually have anything to do with the crimes being investigated. That ability to instill passion about the characters in the reader is true artistry. Barclay keeps weaving together plot threads, some of which are tied off in this book, some of which are left to be wrapped up in the concluding volume.

I listened to the audio version of this book which was excellently narrated by Mark Zeisler and Brian O’Neil. Mark narrated Cal Weaver’s chapters and Brian narrated the rest. I thought it was a little bit of an odd choice to divide the narration in that way, but each narrator did an outstanding job. They managed to breath life into the characters and the story, making each character easy to distinguish and adding drama and tension to the story where required without overpowering the narrative. Both enhanced and enriched the listening experience.

Far From True is great literary fiction. I enjoy a good mystery/thriller on its own, but Linwood Barclay’s writing adds another dimension. I highly recommend both this book and this series, starting with Broken Promise.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

Description: After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a recent break-in at her father’s house. Cal discovers a hidden basement room where it’s clear that salacious activities have taken place—as well as evidence of missing DVDs. But his investigation soon becomes more complicated when he realizes it may not be discs the thief was actually interested in....
Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders—one of which is three years old—he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound.
As the lies begin to unravel, Cal is headed straight into the heart of a dark secret as his search uncovers more startling truths about Promise Falls. And when yet another murder happens, Cal and Barry are both driven to pursue their investigations, no matter where they lead. Evil deeds long thought buried are about to haunt the residents of this town—as the sins of the past and present collide with terrifying results.

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