Sunday, February 26, 2023

Review: Don't Open the Door by Allison Brennan

by Allison Brennan
Release Date: January 24, 2023
2023 MIRA
Kindle Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-0269720788
Audiobook: B09V98R2PJ
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.75 / 5 Stars

After their ten-year-old son, Chase, was senselessly murdered, Regan's life unraveled. Her corporate lawyer husband, Grant, blamed the death on Regan’s work as a US marshal. Unable to reconcile their grief, they divorced, and Regan quit her job and moved away.

Now she's back after a voice mail from her former boss Tommy said he had important news to share about Chase’s killing. Regan is stunned to learn Tommy is dead too. When she reaches out to Grant, his panicked reaction raises her suspicions. Then a lawyer with ties to her ex also turns up murdered, and the police make Grant their top suspect.

Unsure of his guilt or innocence, Regan risks everything to find Grant before the police do so she can finally get the answers to all that has haunted her since losing Chase. But the truth is not even close to what she imagines—and now she fears she has no one to trust.
My Thoughts
Don't Open the Door is the second book in this series, and I actually enjoyed it more than the first book.  While you could get away with reading this as a standalone, I don't recommend it as you will get a richer background if you take the time to read the first book as it discusses the reasons why Regan left Virginia and the difficulties she had with her husband.  One of the things I enjoyed about this book, which has been a criticism by others, is that it doesn't necessarily wrap up everything neatly at the end. Personally, while that is nice to see happen in cozy mysteries, I am not always a fan of things doing this when it comes to more serious issues, especially in longer running series as that is not how things work in real life, so this pleases my heart much more.
Personally, I felt the character development was the weakest part of this book.  It's not that I don't enjoy introspection, and I did think it was merited for Regan as well as Grant, but then it became repetitive, and it bogged down the story line and slowed down tension and overall excitement in the book. I enjoyed Regan's character, in the beginning, but thought the author did a poor job with Grant.  He was a top notch lawyer, used to handling stress, but his character turned into this whining mess you just wanted to slap.  I felt the author could have done better with him.  And the same complaint I had with the first book continues with this one - there is little character development with Regan as she just doesn't seem to grow throughout the book, learning from her mistakes.  She's the same one-dimensional character at the end as she was in the beginning. 
Thank goodness the plot was far better than the character development or this book would have been a disaster.  I don't mind the slower pace at times, as I enjoy police procedurals and like the actual police detective work.  Every page doesn't have to be action after action after action for me. In that case, I would read a Jason Bourne novel.  I liked the complex puzzle, trying to figure out who was who, and who was involved, actually hoping the story would continue into a third book.  Unfortunately, some of the introspection interfered at critical moments and lowered the overall tension of certain scenes, and this is something that needs to be resolved.  It's not necessarily about adding more tension, it's about not adding unnecessary details and dialogue that ruin the tension and suspense when it is happening, allowing the reader to follow along in a super alert state.  
Don't Open the Door starts out slowly, something I liked, as Regan searches for clues and evidence as to what is really happening, and then the story picks up quite a bit. I enjoyed the story quite a bit, but wasn't a fan of the lack of character development as I felt they were one-dimensional, for the most part. I liked the fact that not everything was tied up at the end, although there was still some type of denouement that did leave me feeling satisfied, even though I was happy there could be more adventures for Regan in the future.  When it comes to complex cases, I tend to feel disappointed when they are wrapped up nicely at the end, so this made me happy.