Book Title: Follow Me Down
Author: Sherri Smith
Reviewed By: Chelsea
Genres: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Date Read: 03/20/17
Pub Date: 03/21/17
Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.
All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?
As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.
I’m fully confident this will be one of the most talked about book of the Spring 2017 season, and why shouldn’t it be? It was a deliciously compulsive read, has an attention grabbing cover, and even the title hints at dragging us down the rabbit hole of deceit and despair alongside the characters. It’s almost as if it taunts the reader to come along for the ride, if you dare. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love dark and twisty psychological thrillers, yet it’s been really hard to find ones that tickle my fancy since the Gone Girl frenzy of the 2010’s. RIP unique and original books. While I cringe at even making this comparison, I must admit this book is the first in awhile to give me the same feeling I received when stumbling upon Gone Girl many years ago. The plot is entirely different; it had that dark feeling of spiraling down a funnel where you start out slow and steady on the wide brim and gain momentum as you draw closer to the grand finale. I love stories that are structured this way and think they are a staple in suspense fiction; while it seems mostly police procedurals are tailored this way, I found it refreshing to happen across the formatting in Follow Me Down without all the cumbersome details from the law enforcement side of things.
“The past was crammed down your throat everywhere you turned here; you could never escape it.”
The entire premise and plot surrounding this story is dark. The characters are unlikeable and there are copious amounts of drinking alongside the recreational use of prescription drugs. Without getting spoilery, there are dark subjects riddled throughout this book from just about every angle imaginable. My point is, many times I just can’t connect with a book that has so many unlikable and heavy aspects; most books that sound similar from the points mentioned above I have ended up not finishing due to the distracting nature of being bombarded with so many unpleasant details. Not so with this book! Even though she was flawed and highly irritating at times, I found myself cheering Mia on in the search for answers regarding her brother and poor Joanna. Smith infused just enough snarky attitude and dark humor into the narrative to lighten the mood where I could fully relax into this mid-western world that almost featured a noir-like atmosphere. I think Mia was purposefully written this way to give her flesh and bones, allowing her to come alive and walk alongside us instead of just sitting as another two-dimensional wilting flower we want to throw a book at. Maybe also a shoe. My point is, these characters are massively flawed and highly dysfunctional and all my dark tingly recesses LOVED IT.
“Mimi would go around, ice clinking in her glass, saying she was estranged from her family, drawing out the word “estranged” like it was a sophisticated, glittery term.”
I completely and unashamedly adored Mimi’s character! I know she was rotten and all kinds of screwed up (and clearly a full on narcissist as gleaned from above), but there’s something refreshing about a character who takes her issues and plays them up for the sheer drama of it all. While there is the overall big mystery surrounding the disappearance of Lucas, there were tiny nugget mysteries as well surrounding Mia’s mother, Mimi, and the question of who the twin’s father really is. I’ve always enjoyed novels that contain a family tree of secrets, so when this one revealed itself as such, in part, I became elated at the possibilities of the who’s, the why’s, and how it would pertain to the bigger picture. I really enjoyed how everything wrapped up in the end; the major questions were answered, but things were left a little messy in places and everything wasn’t magically fixed to perfection.
Again, I truly believe we’ll be hearing lots of buzz surrounding this debut throughout 2017. What more do you need besides an endorsement from both Chevy Stevens and Diane Chamberlain on the front cover? I’d highly recommend this to fans of the psychological thriller; this truly had the feel of a classic whodunnit while adding in fresh, modern, and unique traits to separate it from the traditional suspense novels that are being touted left and right. I want to emphasize that while there are twists and turns, the brilliance of this novel isn’t based on a single plot element; this was a well rounded read that is fully capable of standing on it’s own without being compared to other books or marketed as the next (fill in the blank). The cover only begins to touch at how haunting and disturbing of a read this was; you’ll want to go ahead and snag your copy to discuss with your friends so you aren’t the last one in on what a highly delectable book this was.
*Many thanks to the author and publisher for providing my copy; it was a delight to review my honest thoughts on my blog.