2009: #63 – Bad Things (Michael Marshall)

badthings Book #63 was Bad Things by Michael Marshall.  The back of the book reads:

Three years ago, lawyer John Henderson watched his four-year-old son tumble from a jetty into the lake outside their Washington home. In a terrible instant, a life all too brief and innocent ended. But it wasn’t drowning, the fall, or even some previously undetected internal defect that killed the little boy. Scott Henderson had simply, inexplicably . . . died.

Today, John is a different man—divorced, living a solitary existence in a beach house in Oregon, working as a waiter in a restaurant that caters to the summer crowd. Withdrawn from a life and past too painful to revisit, he touches no one and no one touches him. Then one night he receives a short and profoundly disturbing e-mail message from a stranger. It reads: I know what happened.

It’s enough to pull John back to Black Ridge—the one place on earth he’d hoped never to return to—in search of answers to the mystery that shattered his world. In this small, isolated Pacific Northwest community, populated in large part by descendants of the original settlers, the shadows now seem even darker and more sinister than when tragedy first drove him away—and the wind whipping down out of the primal forest can chill a man to his soul. It seems that bad things have always happened in this town of generations-old secrets—and are happening still.

The deeper John digs into his own past, and into local history, the more danger he draws toward himself . . . and toward his estranged and helpless family. And though he doesn’t know it, he’s not the only one who’s been called back to Black Ridge.

And that’s a very bad thing . . .

A twisting, relentlessly thrilling, and consistently surprising novel of psychological suspense, Michael Marshall’s Bad Things is a masterwork of chilling brilliance that will keep the reader guessing right to the final page. Bad things don’t just happen to other people. They’re waiting to happen to you, too.

I liked this, but I didn’t love it. It is a slow builder, which is fine, but I think I was looking for more of an underlying, subtle creepy feeling like I got from reading Rosemary’s Baby. I never felt like John was in real danger until the end.

John himself is an interesting character. He does what needs to be done without a lot of emotional wrangling, but it’s hard to get a good feel for why he is the way he is. Was he always this way, and just masked it when he was married? Or did the death of his son considerably change him? He’s very Jack Reacher-ish.

Overall, I liked the concept, and a rather complicated plot is wrapped up pretty nicely in the end. I just thought the execution could have been a little bit better.

Page count: 384 | Approximate word count: 96,000

2008: Key of Light (Nora Roberts)
2007: Born in Death (J.D. Robb)
2006: Dark Angel (Karen Harper)
2005: Godplayer (Robin Cook)

Used in these Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge 2009;

5 thoughts on “2009: #63 – Bad Things (Michael Marshall)

  • June 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I just noticed your new look and I love it! Am I slow or is it new? I don’t think I’ll seek this book out since there are so many great ones out there.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..Review: Isolation =-.

    • June 19, 2009 at 11:49 am

      It’s been around for a month or so! But you don’t see everything when you’re going through Reader.

  • June 21, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I liked your review, but this definitely isn’t a book for me.

    This is off topic, but do you find that all the goals for books and word counts take away from the pleasure of reading? Or does it spur you on? I think the pressure would take away some of the joy for me, so I was curious about your thoughts.

    • June 21, 2009 at 8:20 pm

      I don’t really have a word count goal, I just like to keep track. And my book goal is pretty non-pressure… I just like to try to read more than I did the year before. I didn’t do it last year, but no biggie! I guess it doesn’t really affect how I read at all. There’s just a part of me that likes numbers almost as much as I like words.

  • June 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I could barely even read that first paragraph. Regardless of the rest of the book, the idea of a child dying without an explination hits one of my deepest fears. I think I’ll have to pass on this one.


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