Returning to one’s hometown after being away for years is a staple of American small-town thrillers. Joe Hart’s Or Else puts an interesting spin on the genre by having the protagonist involved with a local married woman whose husband isn’t very nice. When that guy turns up dead, guess who becomes a person of interest?
Making matters worse, the wife, Rachel, disappears with her two children. Naturally, Andy wants to find her, but how can he do that without exposing the truth about the affair?
The novel’s prose is taut and drives the story forward. As Andy learns about others in the town who may or may not be involved in the unfolding mystery, we learn about his struggle to be happy. I especially enjoyed the relationship between the protagonist and his father, a quiet man whose mental faculties are sadly declining.
Or Else is a suspenseful tale filled with strong characters and lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing. It’s a fun read with a satisfying but dark resolution.
A secret love becomes a fatal affair in a twisting novel of suspense by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart.
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.