This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.
If anyone asks, I would probably say "Mystery" isn't my favorite genre of books. In fact, the word "thriller" brings to mind some sort of crazy blood and gore fest. And yet, I was thrilled (heh, get it?) to be chosen to participate in the BlogHer Book Club's latest adventure, Lisa Gardner's Touch & Go.
(Plus, if I'm being honest with myself, I adore mystery books and television shows. I guess I'm just swayed by stereotypes of those olden-day mysteries that somehow are dry despite that the subject matter is inherently exciting.)
The description on Touch & Go's dust jacket completely drew me in. A perfect family... vanished without a trace... Investigator Tessa Leoni... must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes' innermost dealings..." The indication that "perfect" seldom is so, and the "race against the clock" concept were of particular interest to me:
The former, because I can relate to it so much: Many of us try to appear perfect to the world. those who succeed superficially typically have a difficult internal battle. What an audience sees on stage ignores the performers' chaos backstage.
And the latter, because it is so much not like my life: Sure, my heart pounds with anticipation when it is my son's turn to compete a gymnastics routine. But my anxiety isn't because of violent crime. It isn't because of any real threat that comes close to this fictional family's situation.
The combination of relatable and "fantasy" works perfectly to create an enjoyable read. If a book is too much like my life, it doesn't provide the necessary "escape." But of course if it is too far-fetched, a book cannot hold my interest. There must be possibility involved, either negative or positive. Of course I don't wish to be kidnapped like the "perfect wife" in this book, but delving into something unfamiliar (and suspenseful!) while also relating to the underlying themes is entertaining.
Of course, the best part of a mystery is trying to solve it.
Sometimes I'm a bit too clever, and the chase isn't satisfying. Or, the author will switch gears in an attempt to do a "twist," but it is implausible so really isn't fair. (I hate those books or films where seemingly impossible things end up being explained away by "oh, it was just a dream!" or other cop-outs rather than creating the complex scenario that would have solved the riddle.)
Thankfully, Touch & Go doesn't disappoint. While I did successfully guess some important aspects of the story, I wasn't smug, because there were plenty of details that still needed to be filled in, and there was plenty of unpredictable action involved. I loved wondering "Is this relevant or not?" when I came across something that supported or went against my theory. Consider watching The Crying Game or The Sixth Sense both before and after knowing "the secret:" both viewings are enjoyable, but for different reasons.
Aside from the actual "mystery" part of the plot, I appreciated Touch & Go because the supporting characters have their own stories. As such, the book as a whole felt "real" because the many different players had their own journeys. When the book came to a close, I truly wanted to know more about how the characters "ended up." What would their futures be?
For those who read Gone Girl last summer, I have a confession. I didn't like it. I wanted to like it. I thought the story could have been so much more. Well, Touch & Go satisfies in the way that Gone Girl didn't for me. That means: if you enjoyed Gone Girl, you'll probably enjoy Touch & Go, possibly even more. And if you didn't enjoy Gone Girl because you felt the twists were kind of silly (especially if you guessed them) then I'd encourage you to read Touch & Go because I found it much more sophisticated and enjoyable.
Be sure to check out the BlogHer Book Club's Discussion of Touch & Go. Each week from now until the beginning of March, there will be a new discussion question posted at BlogHer. I'll be participating in those discussions, and I hope you will, too!
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Touch & Go to facilitate my review, and will be compensated for participating in the BlogHer Book Club discussions.
Given how smitten I was with this book, I will be purchasing more Lisa Gardner thrillers using my own cash!
I am an Amazon affiliate.