FEAR THE WORST - Linwood Barclay

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

It's probably heresy to admit this - but there were a few things about this book that made it sound less attractive than it could have.  Not least of all the plot of a teenage girl going missing in circumstances sounding suspiciously like a run-away.  Teenage angst is a subject normally avoided in my reading choices.  How wrong can you possibly get?

FEAR THE WORST is the third book from Canadian author Linwood Barclay, the earlier two being NO TIME FOR GOODBYE and TOO CLOSE TO  HOME.  FEAR THE WORST is really the story of Tim Blake and how his life goes completely pear-shaped when his teenage daughter doesn't come home after a normal start at her summer day job.  Nothing has gone from her room.  She's not answering her telephone.  No friends admit to having seen her.  She simply vanished.  Stranger still - the hotel where she's supposedly been working say that Sydney Blake has never worked there.  Tim is a pretty normal divorced man.  He works as a car salesman, he's trying to maintain a relationship with his daughter, he's not particularly jealous of his ex-wife's new boyfriend.  He has got himself into a very messy relationship with a woman who is definitely not quite right, but he's trying to do the right thing about her as well.  He's even trying to be a good role model for his daughter's teenage friends - especially Patty.  An unlikely best friend, Patty comes from a very dysfunctional background and she's very very different from Tim's Syd.

Tim's problems start when the police seem to be more interested in proving he killed his daughter, than actually looking for her, but things really start to get complicated when he's lured to Seattle on a false report and returns to find his house trashed and drugs planted there.  The police find Syd's car only to discover there's blood on it - but not just Syd's; and there's something going on with Patty and Syd's ex-boyfriend Jeff.  As Tim searches for Syd more and more weird things (and people) start falling out of the cracks of what Tim thought he knew about his daughter.

FEAR THE WORST ticks all the "page turning" boxes.  The action is fast and frenzied, and whilst our hero does take a bit of a battering, he's not made out to be super-human. He's believable.  The supporting cast of characters - Patty, Tim's ex-wife, her new boyfriend Bob, all have some shape and depth to them.  The grudging co-operation which slowly builds between Bob and Tim is good, again believable.  The plot is complex but not complicated to follow, the twists and turns built into Syd's life realistically, adding some blips in Tim's along the way just to show sometimes life can come back and bite you when you least expect it.

Every now and then along comes a book that I can really say was a page turner.  FEAR THE WORST is definitely one of them.

Year of Publication

The worst day of Tim Blake's life started out with him making breakfast for his seventeen-year-old daughter Sydney.  Syd was staying with him while she worked a summer job at the Just Inn Time hotel, and Tim hoped this quality father-daughter time would help her deal with the after-effects of his divorce.

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