Friday, September 26, 2014

REVIEW: ONE OF US by Tawni O’ Dell

Title: One of Us
Author: Tawni O’ Dell
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 19, 2014
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 5/5


Dr. Sheridan Doyle, a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist, is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney's office whenever a twisted killer's mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he's still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners' deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny, in pursuit of a killer, comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.


This is the first Tawni O’ Dell novel I’ve read, and I must say I’m mightily impressed. The only thing that slightly bothered me was the constant brand name promotions of the clothes the two MCs were wearing, but at the same time it did manage to convey how these two characters stood apart from the people in their childhood hometown.

Danny and Scarlet were both raised in dysfunctional homes. Scarlet’s character simultaneously intrigued and repelled me, but mostly I was morbidly fascinated by her coldhearted rationalizations. She reminded me of Amy’s character in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and I think she was the main reason why I devoured this book. Danny is also a complex character, but in a vastly different way from Scarlet. I liked his back story and was captivated by the fact that his mentally unbalanced mother was accused of murdering his one-week old sister, yet through all her years in prison and when she was released she still maintained that the dead infant wasn’t her daughter.

More shocking than Scarlet’s loathsome actions are those of Danny’s father. But actually it is an array of characters that contributed to what happened all those many years ago before Scarlet’s nanny allegedly committed suicide; and all of it is intricately woven into a mining town’s rich history that spans generations. For me, this was the drawing point of the story that kept me riveted. The reader is steadily immersed in the history of Lost Creek and instead of one big reveal right at the end, we’re given pieces of the puzzle to fit together throughout the story. I think the author did a magnificent job with the construction of the plot.

I can’t really say that I related to any of these diverse characters, or that one stood out more for me than the other. They were all well thought out and splendidly developed, but as much as I’d like to say this novel’s strong point is the characters, it’s really the mystery of the murders, manipulation and identity theft, and finally the sweet irony and justice that comes into play to put the past to rest, that makes this book shine. One of Us is an atmospheric psychological thriller that delivers with every element that was neatly sown into its multi-faceted plot, and I’m looking forward to being thrilled by more of this author’s novels! 

I received an eARC copy of One of Us by Tawni O’ Dell from Flux via NetGalley. It was provided to me for free in return for my honest and impartial opinion. Thank you for a wonderful read, Gallery Books!

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Tawni O'Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fragile Beasts, Sister Mine, Coal Run, and Back Roads, which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Tawni's screen adaptation of Back Roads is currently in development to be made into a film with Adrian Lyne set to direct. Her work has been translated into 15 languages and been published in over 30 countries.

Tawni was born and raised in the coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, the territory she writes about with such striking authenticity. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and spent many years living in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania where she now lives with her two children.

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