REVIEW: The Art of Fear, Pamela Crane

Friday, 18 May 2018

Ari Wilburn’s life ended long ago—the day she watched her little sister die in a tragic accident and did nothing to stop it. Crippled with self-blame and resented by her parents, she stumbles through life … and onto an unexpected clue that casts doubt on whether the death was accidental. Now a psychological wreck, Ari joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a sex-enslaved escapee who finds her long-lost father dead. Suicide, police ruled it. But Tina suspects foul play. As a bond develops between the women in their shared loss, they’re dragged into playing a dangerous game with a killer. A serial killer with a deadly message. Faced with a murderous wake-up call and two possibly linked deaths, Ari’s investigation puts her next on the killer’s list. But she’s never been one to back down from a fight. Needing closure, Ari must face her demons and the killer behind them … or lose everything she loves.

My search for a exemplary thriller continues it seems because, believe me, The Art of Fear wasn’t anything close to one. Instead it was plagued with the usual markers of the bad seeds of the genre (or maybe just the usual markers of bad writing) - subpar writing and unrealistic dialogue, far too many nonsensical time skips and changes in perspectives. Why is it that so many thriller writer constantly insist on inserting half-pages of these that have little effect on the actual plot? As soon as the first time skip/perspective change (of far too many) appears, I already know that I am not going to like the book.
I think it is because that when people think of the genre, they expect the reader to want to be confused. But you can’t enjoy confusion without intrigue, or scenes that make any sort of sense.
I think that my growing issue with the mystery-thriller genre is that, when they’re good, they’re this-is-one-of-my-new-favourite-books fantastic but, when they’re bad, they’re just atrocious and honestly, there is no in-between.
The Art of Fear, rather obviously, falls into the second.
If the unnecessary time-skips/perspective changes weren’t bad enough, the character choices hit the final nail in the coffin of my enjoyment. The protagonists of our tale, Ari and Tina, make decisions and react in ways that no real-life person would; although the most obvious example of this goes to Ari’s mother who jumps in seconds from seeing her youngest daughter killed by a hit and run, to blaming Ari (who is only a few years older and just a child herself) for the young girl’s death and even going so far as telling the police that she saw her push her sister in front of the car.
I mean, seriously?
What kind of mother, outside a novel such as this, would ever chose those actions as an obvious next step to the incident? Even in grief, I find it difficult to imagine a mother that would.
The Art of Fear is not a reading experience that I will remember for long and honestly, I am so happy that that will be the case.
Oh well, onto the next, I suppose. Let’s hope that one is better.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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