Book Reviews

Book review: Thief River Falls, by Brian Freeman

Thief River Falls,

by Brian Freeman

Publication: Thomas & Mercer; February 1, 2020

thief riverAbout:

Lisa Power is a tortured ghost of her former self. The author of a bestselling thriller called Thief River Falls, named after her rural Minnesota hometown, Lisa is secluded in her remote house as she struggles with the loss of her entire family: a series of tragedies she calls the “Dark Star.”

Then a nameless runaway boy shows up at her door with a terrifying story: he’s just escaped death after witnessing a brutal murder—a crime the police want to cover up. Obsessed with the boy’s safety, Lisa resolves to expose this crime, but powerful men in Thief River Falls are desperate to get the boy back, and now they want her too.

Lisa and her young visitor have nowhere to go as the trap closes around them. Still, under the strange, unforgiving threat of the Dark Star, Lisa must find a way to save them both, or they’ll become the victims of another shocking tragedy she can’t foresee.

**My Review**

Do you ever read reviews of novels right before you write your own review, and then feel conflicted about your overall feelings? I made the mistake of doing this earlier today and found myself confused. I read Thief River Falls today and really liked it. I sat down about 1:00 this afternoon to start reading and did nothing else until I finished. Then I made the mistake of looking at other reviews, so I had to take some time to reflect and question my own judgment. 

What did I come up with? I still really liked this book

As stated in the blurb, author Lisa Power lives in a remote cabin north of Thief River Falls, Minnesota which is also the title of her most recent bestseller. The novel opens with her returning home one rainy night, drenched to the bone, worn-out, haggard, etc. although we aren’t told why. After a really strange video chat with a California-based book club, Lisa goes to bed but later awakes to deputies outside of her home trying to get her to open the door. For some reason, she doesn’t open the door and hides. Not long after they leave, she is staring out the window and sees a young boy, dirty and rain-soaked in the yard. After finding this boy and bringing him inside, she realizes that he has suffered some sort of trauma and has no clue who he is or where he came from. She decides, until they figure out his identity, to call him Purdue. Which happens to be the name of the young boy in her latest novel. 

After Lisa finds Purdue and takes him in, I then read pages and pages of bad decisions. If you find a young boy in your yard in the middle of the night, please just call the police. Don’t overthink it and do crazy shit. Just call the police, you crazy woman! Lisa, however, does not call the police. Moreover, this is the beginning of a wild ride trying to figure out who the bad guy is (or bad people), who she can trust, where to hide next, and where to search for clues regarding Purdue’s identity and what happened to him. This is the majority of the novel and, at times, I found myself skimming over pages. It started to feel tedious and overwritten. But I warn you not to do what I did because I ended up going back to re-read things because I realized I missed something. Even when things felt insignificant, I later realized that they were not. 

Thief River Falls is yet another novel that I have recently read where I was required to suspend belief. Why? Because of all of the things Lisa did in attempts to hide Purdue, the amazing strokes of luck Lisa had while on the run, and all of the opportunities the “authorities” had to find Lisa and Purdue, yet they didn’t. Even worse, after the big twist near the end, I was confused about whether all of the things I had read were even accurate or if I had wasted my time trying to reconcile what I was reading with what I know as sense and reason. 

Yet still, I really liked this book.

This is a psychological thriller, people. It is meant to get in your head, make you question things, and perhaps, creep you out a little. Read this with an open mind knowing that a big twist is coming. Just savor and enjoy the psychological thriller aspect of it all and escape for a few hours while reading. Ignore the fact that Lisa has given a cheesy name, “The Dark Star,” to all of her loss and trauma she has experienced over the years. Just read and enjoy it! I recommend this one and as long as you go into it without too critical of an eye, I think you will enjoy it also.  

*Thanks to Thomas & Mercer, the author, and NetGalley for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!


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