Book Reviews

Book Review: Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Whisper Network by Chandler BakerWhisper Network by Chandler Baker
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Four women learn their boss (a man who’s always been surrounded by rumors about how he treats women) is next in line to be CEO—what will happen when they decide enough is enough?

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv's CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by...whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

Whisper Network is an undeniably important read. Built as a thriller, this book explores the daunting and intimidating task that lies ahead for women who have experienced any form of harassment by a man much higher up the career ladder than they are.

What do you do? Do you grin and bear it? Do you risk your job to file a complaint that could be weaponized against you? Do you rage? Do you scream? Do you yell?

First, you whisper. You warn the other women in your life. We send out secret signals to each other, our modus operandi, our method of protecting ourselves and each other.

That is the basis of Whisper Network. A realistic and compelling story about four women who find themselves victimized by the same man. But when an anonymous list is circulated detailing all the men in the Dallas area who are known for their catcalls, their groping, and at their very worst, assault, a light shines from above.

For once these women can let their voices be heard. They can offer protection, they can warn and prevent, while knowing their jobs are safe.

Then everything they’ve built is threatened when their CEO jumps off the roof and kills himself, setting off a chain reaction of events that all lead right to the heart of a courtroom.

Whisper Network is a damn addicting read. Told by alternating point-of-view chapters mixed with flash-forwards to court depositions, interviews, comment threads, and more, Baker does an excellent job of weaving a compelling narrative, albeit one that runs a little longer than it needs to.

The brilliance of this story is that none of these women are the “perfect victim.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to realize that. In fact, some of the main characters are downright unlikable, which is brilliant.

Rude women get raped. Women who have affairs can still be harassed by the men they once slept with. There is no such thing as a “perfect victim,” which feels like a robust underlying point of the Whisper Network.

Every woman who experiences assault or harassment in this book is hugely different. Some of them have even done horrible things. Society believes you can judge a woman’s believability and worth by her past decisions. But rape is rape. Assault is assault. It doesn’t matter what you did before that moment, all that matters is that moment.

Should you read Whisper Network?

Yes, yes, 1,000 times, yes! The only issue I had with this book is some of the feministic notions felt a little shallow to me (the frequent mentions of Tina Fey and giving up blowjobs in the name of feminism? okay.), but beyond that, this is a timely and essential read. It’s also just a genuinely good book and exceedingly well-written.

Whisper Network is a little like Big Little Lies for the legal crowd, and it shouldn’t be missed. Chandler Baker has become a must-read author for me after this novel.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Friendship Pact by Alison James

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Friendship Pact by Alison JamesThe Friendship Pact by Alison James
Published on July 3, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 270
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

I’m Lucy, and I have a secret.I have a beautiful home, that I’m desperate to escape. But that’s not my secret.I tell my friends I’ve never wanted children, when I always have. But that’s not my secret. My husband is a celebrated surgeon, who tries to control me. But that’s not my secret.

Adele knows. Once upon a time, I knew everything about her and she knew everything about me. Best friends forever. But now our secret is beginning to surface. I can trust her more than anyone. We made a pact. And she’s never do anything to hurt me. Would she?

This absolutely gripping psychological thriller will have you forgetting everything until the last shocking twist. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Friend Request, and The Girl on the Train will be hooked.

If you liked Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, then you will already know what to expect from this novel. It’s almost identical in plot and how it plays out.

The most significant difference is the introduction of Adele Watts, former best friend of our main character, Lucy. Their friendship was an unlikely one. Lucy has never known anything but being wealthy and privileged, while Adele is now an ex-con who has lived in or near poverty her entire life.

When we meet Lucy, she is nearing the breaking point of her marriage with a volatile, abusive, cardiologist husband, Marcus. Once she decides to get out of her situation, at any cost, Lucy reaches out to the one person she believes can help her, Adele.

The novel is called The Friendship Pact, and the synopsis teases the secret kept between Adele and Lucy as a pivotal plot in the book. The mystery does come into play, we learn about it through a now-and-then flashback format, but as far as its plot significance, it’s minimal.

The Friendship Pact is split into three parts. The first part is gripping, although I had issues with the portrayal of abuse, in the same way, I did with Behind Closed Doors, but it is more believable and less exploitative and gleefully disturbing in this book.

Once the story reaches its second and third act, all the urgency has seeped out. I found the second half of the book harder to get through, mainly because poor Lucy is passed from one abusive man to another (a mild spoiler, it’s obvious). The plot becomes increasingly predictable too. You may figure it out before you reach the half-way mark, I did. Only one twist shocked me, and it ended the first part of the book.

Another pet peeve I have with thrillers is the idea that everyone in the protagonists’ world is oblivious, stupid, or evil. I understand these things can happen in real life, but some of the side characters’ reactions didn’t seem realistic. And speaking of side characters, there were several who served no real purpose.

Should you read The Friendship Pact?

It’s not a bad thriller, it is engaging, and the author knows how to write in a gripping way. But after blowing through the first part of the novel in eagerness to find out what happened, you may find yourself as deflated as I did when the rest of the story takes a sharp decline into dullness.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1) by Rene Denfeld
Series: Naomi Cottle #1
Published on September 5, 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 274
Format: Hardcover

Source: Barnes and Noble

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Plenty of people adored this book. I, unfortunately, was not one of them.

The Child Finder follows Naomi, a woman who is plagued by her past trauma as a child who had once gone missing. Now she attempts to make up for the pain she suffered by seeking out the lost children of the world.

She is called to a town in Oregon, a place baked in her bleak history, to aid a pair of desperate parents anxious for their daughter to come home. The police have given up. The media has moved on. Naomi is their only hope.

Naomi’s characterization is one of the most significant issues I had with The Child Finder. To put it succinctly, she doesn’t have any. We know she only trusts three people (repeated ad nauseum). She has a semi-incestual love interest in her foster brother. She cares only about her career in finding lost children, which is fine if every paragraph wasn’t layered with manufactured subtext about the meaning of life and weighted significance of even the briefest encounters.

To put it bluntly, this was a dull read for me. The writing is poetic, I can see why people were drawn to it. Many passages were lyrical and beautiful to read. But beyond the beauty, I found it difficult to grasp any depth, or if there was any, it felt forced upon the reader.

I found the writing style leaned towards sentimentality for sentiment’s sake. It was often cringe-worthy with the amount of sap and romanticized moments that hardly needed it.

Mainly, large portions of the story felt overwritten, and I felt my eyes glazing over as the subplots twisted onwards, and the central mystery fell to the wayside.

The character perspective frequently switches, making it difficult to follow where you are in the story at times because of the style and timeline.

Should you read The Child Finder?

My dislike of the book appears to be in the minority. You might be able to find the magical spark of The Child Finder that I missed. By my own experience with this book, I wouldn’t suggest it, but other people would with intensity!