I am a huge fan of Charlie Donlea’s Rory Moore/Lane Phillips’ series and so I was extremely excited to get an Advanced copy of Donlea’s upcoming releases Twenty Years Later. One of my favorite things about Donlea’s writing is that characters from his series tend to make small appearances in his standalone books. It really brings the writing together for me, and gives the standalones the same comfortable feeling you get while reading a series.
The story follows Avery Mason as she researches her newest story for her popular prime-time program American Events. This season she’s doing a 20th anniversary special on 9/11 and the efforts that are still on-going to identify the remains of victims. But that’s just one of the reasons Avery is in New York. The second reason happens to be tied to her father, who is one on the run from the FBI after he was convicted of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the history of the US.
We really have two stories tied into one here. On one hand we have the mystery of our 9/11 victim that has recently been identified may not have actually died during the attacks. Avery is determined to uncover the truth and bring those events to her viewers. On the other hand we have the mystery surrounding Avery’s personal life which she’s trying very hard not to expose to the general public. The two plot lines weave together throughout most of the story and while they’re well done, I think the story would have been better with just one big plot line.
We also have a ton of characters that get introduced in the first few characters of the story. Each with their own POV, which made it hard to actually get the story going. In retrospect, it makes sense why Donlea introduces them that way, but regardless it really doesn’t draw a reader in. Though we mainly only follow Avery Mason and retired FBI detective Walt Jenkins, there was just too much movement for me starting off.
With that said this wasn’t my favorite of his books and it’s probably the least memorable one that I’ve read from him. I didn’t get around to writing my review immediately after reading, and honestly had to go back and read the synopsis to remember what it was about. I did enjoy the TV show angle though, and both plot lines are interesting enough on their own to carry the story. I also really liked the main characters, and wouldn’t mind see either Avery Mason or Walt Jenkins again. However, I honestly don’t think I’m ready to read about plots centered around 9/11 yet. I wouldn’t say it’s written in bad taste, I just personally am not ready for it.
All in all, it’s a good mystery with some solid twists and turns.
Twenty Years Later comes out December 28, 2021. Huge thank you to Kensington Books for my copy in exchange for my honest review. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my Instagram @speakingof_books.
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