Orion | 2019 (ebook: 24 January; Pb: 4 April) | 320p | Review copy | Buy the book
J.T. LeBeau is one of the world’s most successful thriller writers. You can find his books anywhere; everyone is reading them. LeBeau is known most of all for his genius with the twist. They’re unguessable. But, despite all of the accolades and all of the awards, he never makes public appearances. In fact, nobody knows who he is. Actually, to be accurate, there were a couple of people who knew his identity but they’re dead now. Better, then, not to find out.
Maria is not a happy woman. She thought she’d married the perfect man. They have a beautiful house by the sea and he gives her all the money she needs. But something isn’t right. He’s often away without telling her why. He has a luxury boat and a sports car, while she drives around in a bit of a heap. Maria suspects he’s keeping a very big secret from her. And so too does her lover Darryl. When they discover a bank statement and some other bits and pieces, Maria realises that her husband is LeBeau. It’s about time he shared the wealth. But the hunter is about to become the hunted.
Twisted is a very clever thriller that plays games with the idea of the ‘twist’, something beloved by thriller writers and readers alike. It’s almost like a thriller about a thriller. Steve Cavanagh writes a twisty thriller about the author of twisty thrillers, while demonstrating that sometimes the very worst thing (indeed, often the very last thing) anyone can experience is a killer twist! So, right from the outset, we’re given a barrage of clues, red herrings and false leads. And we’re not the only ones trying to unravel it. Maria isn’t alone either. A lot of people are trying to work it out when, as we’re warned right at the beginning, sometimes it’s best to leave these things alone. If you want to live.
It’s a fun story and it doesn’t let up for a moment – I read it in just one day. The style is reminiscent of the author’s Eddie Flynn legal thrillers (Eddie is amusingly referred to at one point in Twisted). It’s sharp and to the point, it gives us the facts – even if they’re not true – and makes its case. It is, though, in my opinion, rather clinical and at times does feel like an exercise in thriller writing, so much so that characterisation is left undeveloped. This also means that there are some genuinely shocking moments because the shocks are more important than our relationship to the characters. This, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing in a thriller! I was gripped by Twisted more than I was engaged by it but it’s one of those books that, when you get to the end, you sit back and you’re impressed by how we got there. Twisted is certainly twisty and if you’re a fan of twists, then you’ll enjoy this masterclass.