Beneath Cruel Waters, by Jon Bassoff

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Jon Bassoff, and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Never one to shy away from adding new authors to my radar, I willingly agreed to try this book by Jon Bassoff. A psychological thriller like no other, Bassoff weaves a tale that is sure to capture the reader’s attention from the opening pages. Holt Davidson thought that he left his hometown in the rearview mirror, but receives a startling call one day. His mother has committed suicide, forcing Holt to make his way back to Colorado. What he finds is a collection of items that opens up a world of pain for Holt, as well as a pile of questions, some of which include his institutionalised sister. What follows is a secret that Holt may have wished he’d never tried to solve. Bassoff does well to keep the reader intrigued throughout, proving that he has something worth noticing.

While Holt Davidson has made a name for himself, he’s not returned to Thompsonville, Colorado, for years. All that changes when he learns that his mother committed suicide. Holt returns, in hopes of attending the funeral and making a quick exit back to Kansas, but that’s not in the cards. Instead, a night in his family home turns up some new mysteries.

Holt finds himself trying to make peace with his mother and the childhood he fled. When he finds a gun, a gory photograph, and a love letter from someone he does not know, the mystery only thickens. Holt will have to piece it all together, in hopes of learning what his mother did all those years ago.

If this were not enough, the mystery extends to Holt’s sister, who has been institutionalised for years. What role might she have played in the mystery and could sue hold additional clues as to what Holt has stumbled upon? Dark secrets re-emerge at the worst possible times, forcing Holt Davidson to face them before returning to his life in the Midwest. A great story that keeps the reader guessing until the final page turn.

While I love all things psych thriller, not all books are able to capture the essence of a chilling tale. Jon Bassoff does well to present his story in a straightforward fashion, while keeping the reader on their toes throughout the process. A strong underlying story is complemented by decent writing that adds the addictive factor many seek in books within the genre. While I was not as gobsmacked as many others who appear to have reviewed it, I can see strong writing abilities emerging throughout the reading journey.

Holt Davidson proves to be a worthwhile protagonist, holding his own as his life is turned upside down. He’s fairly level headed from start to finish, taking only a little time to appear shocked and in awe, particularly when things take turns he could not have predicted. Holt appears unsure how to handle much f what he learns, particularly when his memory of his childhood is fogged by a certain belief system. Bassoff does well to keep the reader wondering about this man and how his past collides with the present he thought he knew, keeping the narrative strong and the character development ever-present.

The sign of a great writer is one who can capture the reader’s attention from the early pages and hold it throughout. Bassoff does that here with a strong narrative style that does not stop, irrespective of what is going on around him. With strong characters and the ability to have them weather different timelines in the narrative, these individuals pop and come to life throughout the reading experience. Bassoff knows his craft and presents it well. Leaving me wondering things on numerous occasions. While I was not as stunned by what I read as many others, I appreciate the strength of the author’s ability and will look to see what else he has out there for me to try in the coming months.

Kudos, Mr. Bassoff, for a great piece that piqued my interest from the opening pages.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.