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by Linwood Barclay
Doubleday Canada, October 2017
464 pages
$32.00 CAD
ISBN: 0385690231

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

PARTING SHOT, the latest thriller by Linwood Barclay, showcases Barclay's talent for creating unforgettable characters, twisted psyches, and hideous criminal scenarios. Separate investigations by Paradise Falls detective Barry Duckworth and private investigator Cal Weaver—men introduced in previous books—begin to converge. In the beginning, the chapters alternate, with Cal telling his story in the first person in one chapter, and Duckworth's investigation described in the next.

Duckworth begins by looking into the case of a young man, Brian Gaffney, who was kidnapped and released with no memory of what had happened. A crudely executed tattoo has been burned into his back saying he is the one who killed "Sean." Brian has no knowledge of anyone with that name or any recollection of how this happened to him.

Duckworth hits on the idea of finding other cases where the victim disappeared for a few days with no memory of what happened. He remembers the horrific case of an accused child molester who was taken, drugged, staked to the ground, and mauled by a pit-bull. Somehow the victim survived, and Duckworth interviews him.

Meanwhile, Weaver is hired by the Plimpton family to protect their teenage son Jeremy from public outrage and retribution. He was accused of killing a girl with a Porsche that he had stolen during a party while drunk. Instead of jail time, his lawyer concocted a defense plea that Jeremy had never had any responsibility for anything in his life. His mother had made all his decisions for him, infantilizing him and making him unable to know what to do. The judge bought it and the case became infamous as the Big Baby case. Jeremy is not a "big baby," but he is a troubled young man who finds his life circumscribed and miserable. Weaver decides to take Jeremy on a road trip to get him away from the publicity around his crime, but social media "sightings" follow and hound the pair.

Trevor, Duckworth's son, also seems to be involved in some way. His girlfriend Carol goes missing and a dead body of another woman is found in her car. This woman happens to be a friend of Carol's named Dolly. Dolly worked in a tattoo parlor, and Trevor had a tattoo done there. There had also been a robbery at the parlor and a tattoo gun was missing. Eventually, the two cases converge in a Cape Cod off-season beach town. We learn who the guilty parties really are. But, in true Linwood Barclay fashion, certain crimes and their aftermaths remain unresolved. In fact, the title itself may not make sense until the very end. This book is filled with suspense, creepy perpetrators and gruesome crimes and is tough to put down once you have started reading.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, November 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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