A crime like this isn’t only about the killer. There are others to consider . . . Seven years ago, Detective Paul Hoskins and his larger-than-life partner solved one of the biggest serial killer cases of the decade. They dug up 33 bodies in a crawlspace belonging to the beloved Jacky Seever, a pillar of the community and a successful businessman. Sammie Peterson was the lead reporter on the case. Her byline was on the front page of the newspaper every day. Seever’s wife, Gloria, claimed to be as surprised as everyone else. But when you get that close to a killer, can you really just move on? Today, Hoskins has been banished to the basement of the police station, Sammie is selling make-up at the shopping mall, and Gloria is trying to navigate a world where she can’t escape condemnation. Then a series of copycat killings take place, with the victims all connected to Seever. While Gloria is determined not to be forced into the spotlight again, Hoskins and Sammie see a chance to get their lives back. But it could mean forfeiting their humanity in the process . . . It isn’t over. It’ll never be over.
What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney was an exceptionally well-written novel that focused on what happens to those who are connected to a crime. What a fascinating theme! We’re used to stories where we know all the details about murders although the story finishes when the bad guy is caught. But what happens next?
In What You Don’t Know, we have a creepy villain who has killed more than thirty women and stored them in a crawl space. So there’s Seever, his wife Gloria, the journalist that became famous by writing about him and the two cops who finally caught him. Seven years later, none of them are enjoying a great life and have all but forgotten about the man who made their lives so interesting. But then a series of new murders occur and the crimes seem to be linked to Seever. Is there a copycat killer in the streets? Is it something much more sinister? Can these people get their lives back on track?
What I liked the most about this book was the beautiful writing and the way the author introduced each section. “If this were a movie…” Being such a movie geek, I appreciated those details and thought the examples were spot on. Especially the last one: What You Don’t Know. The book also made me think about what would happen to me if I had been such a big part of a news story. Would everyone judge me because of that? Would I be able to move on? Who knows… I hope I never get to find out, haha.
I think this is a great book, but sadly, I didn’t like any of the characters and the choice of perspective made it harder for me to connect with them. And as much as I love mysteries, I absolutely need to feel immersed in the story in order to be able to fully enjoy it. As for the mystery, it wasn’t super predictable but nothing too surprising either, which left me a bit indifferent, to be honest.
In short, What You Don’t Know is a smart and elegant novel that will appeal to those who want to dive into a deep character study that doesn’t only focus on the crime but what happens after it. A compelling book that, perhaps, is missing some passion.
ARC – Mantle, 2017