CREATURE OF HABIT
I’m very much a creature of habit when it comes to most things in life. This applies to the books I read as well. Not so much the genre, but the author. I usually like to read from authors I already know such as Ann Rule, Patricia Cornwell, M William Phelps and Margaret Atwood. Getting used to another’s form of writing is something I avoid. This is causing me to miss out on a lot of good books. But this time, I decided to veer off the beaten path and hit the road less traveled, by me at least.
TRUE CRIME IS MY TIME
I mostly flock to true crime books by Ann Rule or M. William Phelps (see my review of Obsessed here). I also enjoy fiction crime books such as those by Patricia Cornwell (All That Remains, Postmortem, Body of Evidence – these are her best works). This is all before I met (via Facebook) and read Nicholas Nash’s The Girl At The Bar.
LOCATION, PLOT AND TURNING PAGES
The Girl At The Bar is a mystery thriller set in modern day New York in which “Rebecca, a brilliant cancer researcher, disappears after a one-night stand with a neurotic man with a questionable past” (Amazon). As mentioned, I met Nicholas Nash on Facebook after friend requested me. I could resist accepting realizing he’s an author. It became more appealing when I learned this is his first book and it’s a mystery thriller. After obtaining a hard copy of the book (I normally prefer e-readers to adjust the font size – old eyes here) I began reading it straight away. I have to say, it’s been a long while since a book had me rapidly turning pages as this one did.
Rebecca Chase is a brilliant researcher who worked with Dr. Gupta on finding a cure for cancer. One night while in New York for a conference she meets a man at a bar and the next morning she disappears. Here’s an except from Chapter 6:
Day 5, Monday
East Village, New York City
Ragnar heard a loud knock on the door. It was a Monday morning and he wasn’t expecting anyone today. He had stopped the deliveries from FreshDirect, a popular online food delivery service in New York City, last month. As he started to cut back on his expenses, the grocery bills were now on the chopping block. Ragnar would walk several blocks to a neighborhood grocery store that stocked cheaper unbranded versions of the basic stuff, cornflakes, bread and the like.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“I am detective Timothy Burns and this is detective Roberta Lopez. We’d like to ask you a few questions about Rebecca Chase. She was last seen with you on Thursday night leaving the King & Duke bar. The bartender gave us your address. Said you were a regular there and left with her. Can we come in and ask you a few questions?”
Timothy Burns was a tough and built middle-aged man with red hair and a faint Irish accent. Roberta, on the other hand, was a delicate looking woman with a petite frame but a very determined face. Her hair was tied back in a no nonsense style and she looked ready to engage in hand-to-hand combat at a moment’s notice.
“Sure, come on in. Did you say last seen? Is she, like, uh, go… missing?”
My mind began racing about Ragnar, until more characters were brought into the picture.
THESE CHARACTERS ARE CHARACTERS
Ragnar Johnson – last person seen with Rebecca
Julia Fizpatrick (used to be James Fitzpatrick = founder of Atticus Biopharma – another research company seeking the cure for cancer
Nancy Mulligan – fellow researcher of Julia’s and a former flame of Julia’s when she was James. Nancy still has a thing for Julia/James
Gustev Henrikson – fellow researcher who worked with Rebecca’s and former boyfriend
Chrissy Cassidy – fellow researcher who worked with Rebecca
Iain Thorne – former fiance of Rebecca’s
Dr. Steven Gupta – researcher who Rebecca, Chrissy and Gustev worked for
Dr. Matheus Faust – founder of Faust Biopharma (named after his favorite book Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) – a major competitor of Atticus Biopharma
Nash does a great job of bringing out the personalities and thought processes if each character.
Nancy is still in love with James, now Julia and will do anything to for her. Gustev is a researcher just trying to make a name for himself by any means necessary. Chrissy just enjoys what she does and was very close to Rebecca and has become heart broken of her disappearance. Iain is a cocky bastard who has cheated on Rebecca numerous times. The two doctors are determined to find a cure for cancer and make a name for themselves. All these characters become suspects, either by the detectives or by the reader.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGH YOU KNOW, THEN COMES THE TWIST
There were a few times I thought I had it figured out. But once I figured who did it, another twist arrived and changed my thought process. This was the great thing about this book; just when you think you have it figured out, you don’t. Just when you though all the characters have been introduced, Nash introduces more. Some are connected to Rebecca and some aren’t, but each makes you wonder if they are behind her disappearance.
Timothy Burns and Roberta Lopez – both hard hitting detectives who pull no punches and hold nothing back. With Burns’s in-your-face attitude and Lopez’s instincts you’d think they would have this case sewn up lickity-split. But just when they think they have found their perpetrator, they get thrown a curve ball and start chasing new leads.
I had a few issues with the book, but I had to remember I had an edition of the book which was not the final copy. Once I kept that in mind when reading, I was able to ignore the idiosyncrasies in the book. For instance, Ragnar has a stuttering problems when he’s nervous. Constantly displaying this every time he talked was unnecessary. Mentioning he has a stuttering problem while introducing the character and giving examples of that is fine in the beginning. However, reading it throughout the book drove me nuts. I asked Nash if he kept this in the final copy and he said no. He toned it down. Thank you Nicholas. Whew!
SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE
In the unpublished edition there was a lot of science talk in the book. I don’t care for science. I had the same issue while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot:
The book is about Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line, known as HeLa, that came from Lacks’s cervical cancer cells in 1951. The book is notable for its science writing and dealing with ethical issues of race and class in medical research. (Wikipedia)
Again, I had to remember this is an unpublished edition I’m reading and hopefully a lot of science has been removed from the final version.
WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAYS
I might be getting picky here, but there were times I didn’t know who was talking. Dialogues between people was not made clear as to who was saying what; and sometimes to whom. As mentioned, I might getting picky here. Also, the edition I have is not the final copy. I keep saying this because the copy someone might be reading may possibly not have all the idiosyncrasies I ran into. OR the person reading the book may not be as picky as I am when reading.
I loved the book! Nichalas Nash has a new fan and I am so looking forwarding to reading his next book.
I also have had the honor of forming a friendship with Nicholas via emails we exchange and via Facebook. Nicholas Nash has begun working on his next book in which he has two chapters written.
I highly recommend the book; you won’t be disappointed.
THE GIRL AT THE BAR
- Print Length: 269 pages
- Publisher: Fireflies Publishing, LLC
- Publication Date: February 3, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a hard copy and ebook