Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay

Title: Fear the Worst
Author: Lynton Barclay
ISBN: 978-0-553-80716-5
Pages: 399
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Bantam Publishing
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Summary: 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 begins to panic after he visits the hotel and the manager claims that Syd has never worked there. As the list of unanswered questions grows, all Tim knows for certain is that he must continue searching for his daughter no matter how high the stakes become.

Fear the Worst, like most stories in the genre of thriller fiction is plot-based and relatively simple. It's the story of single dad, Tim Blake, spending the summer reconnecting with his teenage daughter, Syd. But what grabs the reader's attention from the start is that Syd goes missing after only her second week at a new job . What ensues is a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride with twists and turns around every bend that keeps the pages turning quickly. A law-abiding dad who will leave no stone unturned to find his only daughter is something readers can understand and sympathize with, if not necessarily relate to. Of course, Blake's anguish makes sense as does some of his less-then-sound judgments considering that he's frantic to find Syd.
I found two basic problems with the book, however. First, too many plot tangents in the search for Syd are left hanging and never resolved and second, some of those that are resolved don't make sense. At times the story seemed little more than a vehicle for a mild-mannered dad to become this centuries' James Bond.

Tim Blake is a likeable character and a good dad. He's also one of only two or three fully developed characters in the book. Unfortunately, his daughter Syd, is barely two dimensional and we only know Tim loves her instinctively as a father. The why's of it and details of who Syd is are few and far between. Another main character, Detective Jennings (who appears to have a partner in only one scene, which also seems to be a contrivance of convenience), conducts almost no investigations and asks few questions of anyone beyond Tim Blake, leaving us to wonder if she's implicating him. Beyond making the most basic of connections the police seem unable to get anything accomplished in the story. Their very ineptness makes Tim look like a regular Perry Mason.

This roller-coaster ride of a story comes to a sudden end leaving the reader with several unanswered questions. I turned the page expecting a final chapter or an epilogue and discovered the story was over. The story doesn't need to be wrapped in a nice package and tied with a bow at the end, but when plot lines are left hanging and too many characters lives unexplained, it leaves the reader feeling like something is missing and looking for more. Fear the Worst is an exciting story filled with adventure, intrigue and suspense that left this reader wishing for resolution, clarity and a more comprehensive ending.


  1. Oh, I hate stories left with unanswered questions! Just drives me crazy. Thanks for the review, Amy!

  2. oh my, bad form to leave we readers hanging like that. a shame..

  3. Hi, I followed you here from book blogs...

    I said some similar things in the review I wrote a little while back her

  4. Thanks for your sweet thoughts Amy, I appreciate it.

    Good review. I'm a reader too and think the world needs more.

  5. Very good review. I hate when I have to almost write the end of the book myself!

  6. I read this book too. It wasn't too bad true there were unanswered questions and the police were rather.. "dumb" nevertheless it was a good read :)

  7. OK, I am now over at your house, and frankly, you had me at the banner! We have five kitties (and a guinea pig) so that is all the persuasion I needed to hang here! Your kitties are adorable. As for this book, C.B. James just reviewed it, and I was completely intrigued. A well-developed mystery/thriller is good for my literary diet! When there are threads hanging, I actually love it! Assuming I will someday get my questions answered, that is!

  8. Thanks for the honest review. I always enjoy a good thriller and don't "expect" as much from them as some other types of books but it would bother me not to have resoluton!

  9. I hate to finish a book and feel that I don't really know how the story ended. It does sound like an interesting story line, though.

  10. Great review, Amy. Somebody didn't do his/her job with this author. It's a shame because the basic premise of the book sounds interesting.