Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

Title: The Real Michael Swann
Author: Bryan Reardon
Published: June 2018, Dutton
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

In a new novel from New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon, a suburban family is rocked in the wake of a terrorist attack on American soil.
On a typical late summer day, Julia Swann is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly goes dead. Then the news rolls in: A bomb has gone off at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home. New York City is in a state of chaos.

A frantic Julia races to the city to look for Michael, her panic interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she's now desperate to find. When someone finds a flier she's posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her dreams seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered.

Weaving between the aftermath of the explosion and Julia's memories of her life with Michael, new developments raise troubling questions. Did Michael survive the explosion? Why hasn't he contacted her? What was he doing when their last call was cut off? Was he—or is he still—the man she fell in love with?

Part family drama, part tragic love story, and part disaster narrative that hits terrifyingly close to home, The Real Michael Swann is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable--both in our country and in our own homes.

My thoughts: I am not new to Bryan Reardon's books, having read and loved Finding Jake, though I admit it wasn't until reading the author bio in the back after I finished the book that I realized it was the same author. Still, this book was a highly anticipated read and one that I was lucky enough to grab at Book Expo this year...I even had the opportunity to meet Bryan and get a signed copy of this book!

This is such a timely read, though I admit it might be a bit of a difficult read for some given the subject matter of the book. It is a scenario that is only too realistic for many of us, something that has happened and unfortunately has the potential to happen again. But the genius of this book is in the way it is told, the way the story unfolds. It is certainly a thriller, no doubt about that, but in many ways I would also classify this book as domestic suspense. It is an intense, intimate look into a marriage that from all outward appearances seems to be just fine, but once you start looking closer, the little cracks show. 

Having the story told via two narrators and going back and forth in time really does add to the tension and suspense of the book. It is through this that we learn about who these characters are, who the Swann's as a couple are. The memories and the strolling stream of consciousness really allow you as the reader to really know and understand these characters. And the shortness of the chapters also heightens the tension - giving us just the right amount of information at a crucial time to keep you reading. 

This book will take you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. It's powerful and those feelings are so palpable. I was immediately hooked in the first few chapters - and then by the time I got to the second half, I was glued to the pages...I just couldn't put the book down. I was constantly trying to figure out just where things were headed and it wasn't until the very end that I figured some things out...but still, I loved every minute of it. It brings up a whole slew of questions that you will be asking yourself and ones that I am still thinking about days after I have finished reading. 

This book, while it may start off simple and benign, delves into a pretty complex and layered story - the kind I enjoy the most. And because this scenario is one that we see on the news time and again, it made the book that much more realistic and engaging. It was a thrilling, gripping yet haunting and frightening read that I certainly won't be forgetting any time soon. Bryan Reardon has one again given us an emotionally charged, thrilling read. I can't wait to see what he writes next!


1 comment

  1. Great review, Kristin. I hadn't heard of this one. I'm definitely going to check it out.


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