Thursday, November 2, 2017

Book Review: At Bay (An Alex Troutt Thriller, Book 1) by John W. Mefford

Who’s the Real Alex Troutt?  Beats Me.

At Bay introduces us to Alex (Alexandra) Troutt, Special Agent of the FBI.  Following a serious car crash which produces total amnesia, she starts to rebuild her past as she also builds a case against a brutal, serial killer terrorizing the Boston area.

For a thriller, At Bay was slower than I expected, with a large portion of the book dealing with Alex’s memory loss and the inconsistencies she saw between her internal feelings and the way others characterized her past.  Presumably, this was the author’s intent – give the readers of the series a significant insight into the person that is Alex Troutt.  And with this much emphasis on character development, one might expect a clear picture.  But because of the strongly differing perspectives, none emerged.  In book 2, Alex might be the hard-driving, risk-taking FBI agent we saw occasionally in book 1…or she might quit and become a soccer mom.  I couldn’t guess (although it’s probably the former, given this is a thriller series).

The opposing viewpoints about her character also seemed to push the finale to the final few pages, where there were simply too many convenient coincidences and extreme, deductive leaps to build much tension from realism.  The way the final victim was identified, the way the location of the final murder was determined, and the way the suspect was identified all seemed to involve such unlikely events and leaps of faith that it was difficult to give them any credibility.  To me, the end really fizzled, and it was slow getting there.

Overall, At Bay seems to aim for an in-depth look at what makes Special Agent Alex Troutt tick – her marriage, her kids, her drive for justice.  But that picture is never clear and the thriller part of the tale is relegated to what’s left, making the story a bit unsatisfying.

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