Now Or Never by John Carson

Now Or Never by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

You can’t make up your own ending…

The lifeless body of a renowned author is found murdered within his residence, prompting DCI Harry McNeil to uncover the unsettling truth that not everyone held the man in high regard. Initially dismissed as a tragic mishap stemming from a misjudged publicity stunt, this incident swiftly transforms into a grim realization of foul play.

As a remorseless and deranged murderer prowls the streets, McNeil finds himself embroiled in an intense pursuit, exacerbated by the absence of one of his key team members.

Meanwhile, a surprising call interrupts DCI Angie Fisher’s routine – none other than her ex-husband, DI Dougie Fisher, whom she believed would remain estranged. Dougie, now residing in London with his new spouse and infant son, has come north to Fife for a family funeral. A nagging suspicion haunts him – he suspects his father-in-law’s demise was no accident. Frustratingly, his position as a detective in London’s MET has yielded no cooperation.

Initially hesitant to engage, Angie’s resolve wavers when Dougie discloses that his family has become a target. Yet, this is merely the prelude to an intricate sequence of events that ensnare Angie in the investigation. Amidst the labyrinth of twists and turns, the ultimate revelation catches her off guard, leaving her blindsided as events reach their irreversible climax.

DCI Harry McNeil books are always complicated but really well plotted with plenty of twists and turns and I found this book to be no exception. I enjoyed the fact that this full-length novel had about three main plotlines twisting and turning together which helped make me feel like the pace of the whole book kept up at a good clip. There was significant movement in DI Frank Miller’s story-arc which I feel should keep readers of the series very happy, but there was also a good plotline around the murder of a mystery author and some family drama with other members of the police team. I heartily empathize with Frank’s character – he has absolutely been through the wringer, and I definitely hope there’s a bit of peace and stability in store for him soon.

While the plots were all well explained I do feel readers might struggle if they pick this book up just fresh by itself. While certainly not all the previous books in the series need to be read to fully enjoy this – I do feel that at least a few should have been read, mainly so the reader can know and be able to juggle the many different characters and their relationships together all in order. I also finally felt like some of the personal drama between Harry and his wife – a fellow Detective in a different unit, Alex, had reached an easy equilibrium and some semblance of normalcy had returned to them.

While a lot of the different plots did get neatly wrapped up, there was one particular thread that was only partially finished. I personally don’t feel as if this book ended on a cliff hanger – but I will admit that I was relieved the next in the series had already been released so I could move immediately on to it. This is not particularly unusual for this series – frequently the author wraps most things up and leaves just a few loose threads that can be followed into the next book, but I do feel readers who prefer to have the next book ready and waiting might feel that need here.

With a whole cast of funny and interesting characters, a number of different groups all circling around and working together as well as numerous plots twining together this was a good book and an engrossing read.

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