September 8, 2015
Trust No One, by Paul Cleave
Jerry Grey is known to most of the world by his crime writing pseudonym, Henry Cutter—a name that has been keeping readers at the edge of their seats for more than a decade. Recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of forty-nine, Jerry’s crime writing days are coming to an end. His twelve books tell stories of brutal murders committed by bad men, of a world out of balance, of victims finding the darkest forms of justice. As his dementia begins to break down the wall between his life and the lives of the characters he has created, Jerry confesses his worst secret: The stories are real. He knows this because he committed the crimes. Those close to him, including the nurses at the care home where he now lives, insist that it is all in his head, that his memory is being toyed with and manipulated by his unfortunate disease. But if that were true, then why are so many bad things happening? Why are people dying?
When I saw this on NetGalley, the bold cover and use of negative space intrigued me. The blurb is excellent, with just enough information for me to want to read to see what happens. And down the rabbit hole I read.
Did he or didn’t he? Real or imagined? These are the questions we think about as we read. I found myself covering the entire pendulum swing between yes and no; real and fake; ruthless monster and helpless victim of circumstances. The format follows a pattern of “present day” and “past journal entry” for each chapter. Once of twice it deviated from this pattern, but I assume it was just an odd formatting issue with my eARC. I predicted the twist ending about ¾ of the way through, but the last quarter of the book changes gears and is worth the build up. I found myself doubting my conclusion all through that last quarter.
The ending left me a bit confused, but I think I like it that way. It plays on the helplessness of the protagonist, and it’s open to interpretation. I’m awarding five stars, because fans of multiple genres will enjoy this book.
Paul Cleave is an internationally bestselling author who is currently dividing his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. He has won the Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel in New Zealand, he won the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year in France, has been shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Barry Award in the US, and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly award in Australia. When he’s not writing, he spends his time swearing on a golf course, swearing on a tennis court, or trying to add to his list of 25 countries where he’s thrown his Frisbee.