Book Reviews

Book Review: The Devil You Know

By P.J. Tracy

Publication Date:  January 17, 2023

294 Pages

This is Book 3 in the Detective Margaret Nolan Mystery Series.  I haven’t read the first or second book in the series, but that’s never stopped me from jumping in midstream before.

In this offering, the author takes on the showbiz side of Los Angeles.  Homicide detective Nolan is called to the scene of a Malibu rockslide that turned up the body of a famous star, Evan Hobbes.  At first it’s unclear if the death was accidental or not, but it soon turns out that Hobbes was most likely dead before he went over a cliff at a private party.

Nolan’s investigation takes her deep into the world of stars, agents, and hanger-ons, uncovering several unsavory secrets and more than one murder. The question soon becomes not who wanted Hobbes dead, but who didn’t?

Per my usual, I’ll start with what I liked.  I really enjoy police mysteries and this one had a good storyline.  I don’t know about most people, but I love taking an imaginary peek into the lives of the “rich and famous,” and there were a good number of red herrings tossed into the plot that kept things interesting.  And wow, there aren’t many likable people in this book, regardless of how they project themselves.  But most of the characters are nuanced, with both their good and not-so-good side given fair play.  The author did a great job building complex characters and the pacing remained brisk throughout.  There were a lot of subplots going on and I appreciated how the author had a good sense of what needed to be in the story and what the reader could infer; (although, on that note, there were one or two sub-sub plots I thought were unnecessary). I finished this book in less than days without putting in a lot of extra reading time.

“The Devil You Know” interpreted by Wombo Dream

I did have an issue with a few things.  From the first paragraph, it was obvious that this book is overwritten.  I’ve posted reviews for some books I considered lyrical that others slammed for purple prose.  I’m not saying this prose is purple, but it’s definitely more than necessary, especially for this genre.  The author seems to like to use two or three words when one well-placed word would have sufficed.  For instance, it wasn’t balmy, it was “voluptuously warm.”  The ocean didn’t whisper, it sang “in…hushed, undulating tones…”  You get the picture. Not what I’m usually looking for in a police mystery.

Lastly, there’s a secondary character with his own subplot that suffers from PTSD, which is handled really well.  Unfortunately, there is also a recovering drug addict who drinks – a lot – and no one bats an eye.  There are several schools of thought on this and I’m not trying to get into a debate over it, but having this in here tells me that the author didn’t research addiction recovery nearly as well as PTSD.  I could be wrong about my inference, but I hate seeing that blasé attitude about recovery in anything I read.

Final words – I ate up parts of this novel and some parts had me rolling my eyes.

3/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing the ARC ebook.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Devil You Know”

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