By Blake Crouch
Book two in the series was very middle book-ish. Good, a complete story, but very clearly the middle of an arc. I spoil like crazy below, so forewarned and forearmed and all that.
There is virtually no gap between books one and two. Story wise, it is the next day. Since most of book one was in third person, but clearly in the protagonist’s head, we know that Ethan Burke, newly appointed sheriff, is only going along with his captors for the moment. It is a dystopian novel with a strong jawed, free willed hero. It is only a matter of time before he is going to try to break the chains.
If that was the only plot line then the story would not have been satisfying. Instead, Crouch throws in a murder mystery as a vehicle for progressing the arc. The arch antagonist’s daughter has been murdered, and it’s the sheriff’s job to find out who done it.
So again, like the first book, Crouch is mixing genres, throwing the murder mystery on top of the longer story. While in the first book the mystery was about the world they were in, the second is about who inhabits this world.
Like the first book, there is sexual tension. Burke’s old partner, revealed in the first book, used to be his lover. He has to investigate her. The new twist is that Burke’s wife has been in Wayward pines longer than him, and had a relationship with Burke’s old boss. So a little goose and gander action. But it is still a mystery to Burke because the other man is away outside the wall, gaining intel on the monsters. Nice hook.
As far as the major arc goes, it’s was as expected; he exposes the truth to the people of the town. But how he took us there revealed a lot about 1) Burke’s old partner, 2) his wife, 3) his wife’s former lover, and 4) the evil overlord, who, it turns out, murdered his own daughter.
Again, Crouch has hooked me. It is good fast food fiction. Like Shake Shack, not BK. I bought book 3.