Tuesday, 7 March 2017

#CBR9 Book 20: "Every Word" by Ellie Marney

Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This is the second book in a trilogy. While readers could start with this one, I would recommend that they start at the beginning with book 1, Every Breath. There may be mild spoilers for the first book in the series in this review, so if you want to go in completely cold, skip this until you're caught up. 

Rachel Watts has pretty severely grounded after the events that led to both her and her new boyfriend (also her neighbour from two doors' down the street) James Mycroft ending up in a near death situation, having caught the attention of some rather ruthless people while investigating the death of a homeless man. They hardly get any time to themselves, which doesn't exactly decrease the unresolved sexual tension between them. Their developing relationship may be over before it's really had a chance to properly begin, however, when Mycroft suddenly travels to London, leaving Rachel only a short text message, nothing else.

Having lost his parents in a horrific car jacking seven years ago, Mycroft, who despite still being a teenager, is something of a wunderkind of forensic science, has been obsessed with finding out more about their murder. Having been in the car at the time his parents died, he's scarred both physically and emotionally and the reason he persuades his supervisor, Dr. Walsh, to allow him to go along as a consultant to London is that the death in question bears a striking resemblance to the car jacking where his parents were killed. A rare Shakespearean Folio has been stolen from the Bodleian library in Oxford. Now one of the librarians who worked there has been killed in another car jacking, his car driven off the road. Mycroft is convinced the case is linked to that of his parents', not that he's going to tell Dr. Walsh that.

Rachel, however, is fully aware of what Mycroft is doing, and worried about his mental state, she impulsively spends most of her savings on a return ticket to London to follow him. Alicia, her brother's girlfriend, is spending the next three months travelling in Europe, so her first time on a plane ever won't have to be a lonely experience. When she and Alicia track down Mycroft, he's both shocked and dismayed to see her, but can't really make her return to Australia when she followed him halfway across the globe.

Together with Dr Walsh, the teens are able to visit the accident site, and you don't have to be an investigative genius to see that the story that the victim's alleged girlfriend is telling about the accident doesn't match up with the actual evidence on the scene. While the car jacking victim had an alibi when the Shakespeare Folio was stolen, both Rachel and Mycroft suspect that he was involved somehow, and that is why he was driven off the road and shot at. When Rachel takes it upon herself to visit the dead man's work place in Oxford, claiming to be his niece, she finds clues that suggest their theory is correct, but before she can tell anyone about it, she's abducted and wakes up in a remote warehouse. Some very threatening people want to know what she knows about the case, and whether she knows anything about the extremely valuable Folio's location. They're clearly the people responsible for the murder, and everything suggests that if she doesn't come up with something clever, she will be their next victim.

I really rather enjoyed the first book in the series, where we first get introduced to the likable Rachel and her somewhat abrasive, but brilliant neighbour Mycroft, who over the course of their first murder investigation fall in love. If I was fond of them in the first book, my affection and worry for them only grew the further I got into the story of this one. As the two were friends before they became a couple, Rachel is willing to travel the very long distance to England to be with James, even if he's so unhappy to see her there that he breaks up with her. She's honestly not sure how he'll react, but also knows that the whole situation with his parents' death is so fraught for him, and he's so incredibly obsessed with solving their murder that he may put himself at serious risk. She wants to be there for him as emotional support, whether it means losing him as a boyfriend or not.

As Mycroft is clearly teetering on the edge of a breakdown by the time Rachel shows up on the doorstep of his hostel, it's clearly a good idea that she threw caution to the wind and hopped on the first available plane from Melbourne. Chain-smoking and soothing his jangled nerves with far too much alcohol, Mycroft is not entirely reliable, and his supervisor, Dr. Walsh, very much appreciates Rachel's assistance in keeping his mind on the task at hand. As it becomes more and more obvious that the car jacking case involving the Bodleian librarian is indeed most likely linked to that of Mycroft's parents, seven years ago, he just becomes more and more sharpened on his goal. Rachel is frustrated that he refuses to share any of his thoughts and feelings about their actual deaths, though, believing it may help him get some piece of mind, no matter what the outcome of the current investigation.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, other than Rachel and Mycroft exploring London a bit. I was not expecting the really very creepy and suspenseful turn the book took as Rachel is kidnapped from the Bodleian, by people who believe her to be the dead man's niece. They have already killed to get the missing Shakespeare Folio and are clearly willing to resort to both threats and outright torture to figure out what she knows about the case. Alone, desperate and scared out of her wits, Rachel is in a very bad place and is torn between agreeing to let the kidnappers notify Mycroft, to get him to reveal information that could lead to her release or stay quiet to protect him. There were some really rather unpleasant scenes in the latter half of the book, not exactly for the faint of heart.

As this is the second book in a trilogy, I'm sure the reader will not be surprised when I reveal that neither Rachel nor Mycroft die, though they both go through some real unpleasantness and it's touch and go there for a while (just as in the end of the first book). They also figure out not only who is responsible for the theft of the Folio, but eventually where it's located, as well as getting much further in clearing up the details surrounding Mycroft's parents' murder. That some of their discoveries possibly put them in even more danger than before, even as they return to Melbourne was probably not what they were expecting.

This was absolutely my favourite book in the trilogy. I raced through the latter half, too worried to find out what happened to be able to put the book down. This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I was glad to have the third book at hand, so I could move onto the resolution as soon as possible.

Judging a book by its cover: I don't exactly think the covers for these books are amazing, but there is a teenage boy and a girl who look vaguely like the description of Rachel and Mycroft, and just so it's immediately obvious to the reader that the action in this book takes place in London, there is Big Ben in the background. The cover is a bit generic, but I've seen a lot worse on YA books.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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