Length: 253 Pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercers
Release date: April 1, 2022
When novelist Andy Drake returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father, a reconnection with his childhood friend Rachel escalates into a secret love affair. For Rachel, struggling to maintain the facade of a picture-perfect life, it’s an escape from an emotionally abusive marriage. Then Andy receives an anonymous note warning him to end the affair. Or else.
Whoever’s been watching is going to make Andy pay. Weeks later, Rachel’s husband, David, is shot to death. Rachel and her two young sons vanish without a trace. One misstep, one careless reveal, and Andy could look as guilty as sin. Clue by clue, as his investigation into the mystery unfolds, Andy discovers that he and Rachel weren’t the only ones keeping secrets.
Nothing in this quiet neighborhood is as it seems. No one peeking from behind the curtains of their homes can be trusted. And the worst is yet to come. Because David isn’t the only one who will die.
Or Else was an okay read, but not in the same league as past thrillers from Joe Hart. Typically, Joe Hart’s thrillers grab me and don’t let go. Obscura, The River Runs Deep, and Cruel World rock on all levels, and I highly recommend them. Or Else had a lot of mystery to sort through, which I dug, but too many characters which felt under developed. The family dynamic of brother vs. brother and sister felt a bit extraneous. I did however like the father/son dynamic as Andy cares for his aging father.
Andy is a writer of thrillers and tries to solve the mystery of Rachel’s disappearance, thinking he has enough ‘writers life knowledge’. I love this idea, but Andy doesn’t come across as smart enough to solve this mystery. He makes some giant leaps of logic and somehow gets enough parts of the puzzle to find a real clue. The story moved slowly and at one point I lost interest in who took Rachel or why. On the plus side, the fact I couldn’t figure out the who or why was great. This is always a plus for me, I enjoy the journey and if I figure out the mystery all the better.
Joe Hart, Biography-
Joe Hart is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of thirteen novels that include The River Is Dark, Obscura, and The Last Girl. When not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, exploring the great outdoors, and watching movies with his family. For more information on his upcoming novels and access to his blog, visit http://www.joehartbooks.com.