Book: Nine Years Gone
Author: Chris Culver
Source: Free from publisher, opinions mine
Publication date: July 15, 2014
Readability rating: 3.5 stars
Morality rating: PG-13
Target audience: Crime thriller lovers
Buy it: Amazon
Nine Years Gone Book Summary
Nine years ago, Steve Hale helped save his girlfriend from an abusive stepfather by faking her death and framing him for murder. Now a family man, Steve thought that part of his life was over, but when his “dead” girlfriend shows up back in town with a surprising message, Steve wonders if what he thought is all a lie. Now, Steve must decide whether to help his old girlfriend or defy her and save his family.
Nine Years Gone was full of twists and surprises and was an engaging read. As a thriller novel, it almost reminded me of a Gone Girl lite. The story is action-focused, but also has enough character development to seem realistic. Nine Years Gone is a solid thriller that should please any action and crime fan.
Plot: The plot was somewhat predictable; I was never surprised by any of the events. Even though the plot was predictable, it was still enjoyable to watch the events unfold. I had slight issues with the pacing of the novel; the first 2/3 of the book have a slow pace, but the last 1/3 of the book contains almost all of the action and plot reveals. It almost felt as if the author wrote the first part of the book, then realized that he needed to stick to a certain word count, so he plugged in all the action at the end. I know putting so much action into the end adds drama, but I felt that it could have been spread out a little more.
Characters: I found all of the characters realistic expect for Tess herself. The idea of a super-hot ex-girlfriend remaining obsessed with her college boyfriend all these years felt like a high-school boy’s fantasy rather than reality. But, it wasn’t so ridiculous that I could’t enjoy the rest of the story. It was the character of Steve who made it bearable, because he kept resisting. In other stories, the main character might have cheated on his wife with his “one true love,” but Steve was at least a strong enough character to avoid that pitfall. Aside from Steve and Tess, none of the other characters were around enough to really get to know, but I found myself liking Captain Morgan, the police investigator, quite a bit.
Setting: This book is set mainly in St. Louis. I don’t know anything about St. Louis, other than what I learned from the book. Although Nine Years Gone doesn’t have a huge descriptive focus, I appreciated the little facts that kept reminding me where they were, such as road names and the history of Panera Bread. I thought Nine Years Gone was better at painting a visual representation of the setting than many thriller books.
Writing: Chris Culver writes in a straightforward style that is mainly dialogue-driven, but not so much that it feels like a screenplay script. There was enough narrative to keep even me happy (as a narrative-loving woman) without distracting from the events of the story. The writing used past tense, which is rarer in modern literature, but it fit well with the theme of the book.
What I Liked Most
Nine Years Gone captures just the right balance between horror and action without going overboard on the gross factor. I feel that many crime novels go a little too far in their descriptions of criminal acts, and Nine Years Gone struck the perfect balance of descriptive without being obscene. Culver manages to write about criminal events clearly without having to describe horrific acts in overwhelming detail. I didn’t feel like I needed a shower after reading this book.
What I Liked Least
I thought that the entire book had a vaguely misogynistic tone. The fact that Tess was unrealistically hot and obsessed with Steve was a big part of why I felt that, but it was not the only incident. The most memorable incident is when Steve’s niece starts to swear and he is trying to figure out how to get her to stop. He tells a friend something along the lines of, “how do you tell a five-year-old that swearing is not ladylike?” It wasn’t as bad as some novels I have read and it wasn’t enough to make me stop reading or hate the book, but it was enough to break the fourth wall, so to speak.
Nine Years Gone is a solid thriller with plenty of action and mystery to make any thriller-lover happy. The book is fast-paced, well-written, and full of action that is exciting without being obscene.
Who should buy this book: Anyone looking for a fast-paced, well-written non-obscene thriller.
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