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  • Mandy McHugh

Every Last Fear, Alex Finlay: A Review

This is my first Alex Finlay read, but it definitely won't be my last. I requested based on the interesting blurb and beautiful cover, and I'm so glad I did.

The Pine family is plagued by a crime: their son, Danny, was tried and convicted of murdering his girlfriend. A true crime documentary sheds light on the case and thrusts them in the spotlight. Ten years later, the family is found dead on a spring break trip to Mexico, leaving only Danny, still incarcerated, and his brother Matt. As FBI agent Sarah Keller begins her investigation, the case proves to be more complex than anyone could've guessed, and pulling at one mysterious knot leads to another. I really enjoyed this read. Structurally, the multi-POV, alternating voices from the deceased family leading up to their deaths, to the Sarah Keller's investigation, to Matt navigating his old town and unfinished business--this worked really well. It kept the pace moving, added layers to the character development without getting bogged down in dense prose, and meticulously laid the mystery to unravel piece by piece. With so many moving parts, it was easy to get lost in the mystery and swept up in the chase. Perhaps what I liked most about this was how normal everything felt. In a sea of conspiracy theories, homicide, reality stardom, and a one-armed man frame narrative is a family. A family struggling with average problems that give the appearance of nefarious intentions but really are just people trying to figure out a way to be happy. Marital problems. A whip-smart, clever teenage girl trying to navigate consent and assault. Money issues. None of their issues felt outlandish or fantastical; rather, the mystery comes from a place of familiarity, so it very much puts the audience in the seat of "this could be me." Finlay does an excellent job of constructing a believable family, a believable tragedy, and the sadness that comes when truths come to light. While I had a good idea where the story was going around the halfway point, Finlay plants plenty of subtle clues and red herrings to keep suspicions cast elsewhere. I'd be curious to see if this will end up being a series, but it functions well as a stand-alone. Overall, Every Last Fear is a fast-paced, thrilling adventure into old grudges, family dysfunction, and conspiracy theories. A well-written intrigue with lots of heart, this is one you won't want to miss in 2021. Big thanks to Minotaur and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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