Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.
Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.
The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.
Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…
What I Liked:
Oh my GOSH this book hit me like a ton of bricks. OUT OF NOWHERE came this huge curveball that I was not expecting! Holy guacamole! Everyone really kept quiet about The Big Thing (or maybe I avoided reviews really well). WOW. I loved Brigid Kemmerer's Elemental series, and I really, really enjoyed this new book!
Thomas's mother recently got married to his new stepdad, Stan... and was murdered ten days later. New to the sleepy, quiet town, Thomas is the one that everyone thinks did it... everywhere he goes, accusing glares follow him, and all of the police are looking for any reason to lock him up. Charlotte, sister to three of those cops, is sure that Thomas is innocent, and against her family's wishes, befriends him. She wants to know what's going on - just like Thomas does. But the truth is something far more sinister than anyone could have imagined.
Honestly I still can't get over the insane story that Kemmerer has put together. I say "insane" and what I mean is TOTALLY UNPREDICTABLE. I am usually one of those astute readers that can see an ending or a cliffhanger or twist from afar off... not with this book. I had no idea who did it. As new characters were introduced, I kept thinking, that's the one. They did it. It must be him. But no! Kemmerer threw this one aspect in the book that I never could have seen coming! It changed the whole story. At first I didn't like The Big Thing - it felt a bit unnatural in terms of the plot/story and like a cop-out, but then I thought to myself, WOAH, I probably just missed all of the signs.
Thomas is so broken after his mother's death. He is devastated, and angry. Rightfully so - he's in an unfamiliar town, living with a man he barely knows, surrounding by people who think he's a murderer. The boy never catches a break - from the first scene, the funeral, Thomas has had police or bad memories after him, plaguing him. You really have to feel for the guy.
I wasn't a huge fan of Charlotte at first. I can identify with her in some ways - my family is very conservative, like hers, as well as overprotective of their little girl. At the same time, Charlotte isn't as defiant and bold as I thought she'd be, given the synopsis. She's kind of spineless. but that's just my opinion. I see some character growth from start to finish, and I did end up liking her.
There are so many secrets and clues and memories and information waiting to be discovered! It's a murder mystery with the prime subject being our male protagonist, whom we are very sure didn't do it. It's so interesting and chilling to see Thomas and Charlotte put together little pieces at a time, until we get to the climax and then another huge scene after the climax. Then this book ended, and I was like, where is the rest?!
This book was an emotional roller-coaster! My heart hurt for Thomas over and over, I got mad at Charlotte's family over and over, I wanted to punch some of her police brothers in the face, I wanted to hug Thomas's stepdad, Stan. So many emotions! And the way this book ended - I'm almost terrified of another book (if there will be another!).
There is romance in this book, and it's pretty small, in my opinion. Charlotte is there for Thomas, helping him grieve, and they mesh well together as friends. But both of them are also very attracted to each other, and it's cute and hilarious to see their interactions. There was one scene in the library that I LOVED!
I can't accept the ending - there MUST be another book! I hope this is a case in which the publisher (stupidly - sorry!) only bought one book, to see how sales would do, so the author had to kind of make the ending work as a standalone. The ending DOES mostly work as a standalone (certain things ARE wrapped up), but there are a lot of unanswered questions and unresolved matters. A lot. So. I'm hoping to see more from this story!
What I Did Not Like:
I dislike the ending - remember, I'm going off of facts, and right now, what I know is that there is NOTHING in existence stating anything about a sequel/sequels. So... I am not satisfied with the ending. It's not a cliffhanger and it isn't cruel, but it isn't complete and isn't enough.
Also, I kind of hate Charlotte's family. She's not some fragile doll who needs to be coddled and protected (even with everything that happened in this book) - and what's worse is that she sort of lets her family treat her that way. Booo. Grow some self-esteem, girl.
It took me a while to like her. Basically the whole book. The good thing is that this book is written in alternating POVs, mostly in Thomas's!
Would I Recommend It:
I can't not recommend this book! I didn't know Kemmerer could write such a great mystery novel - she can! I loved her paranormal work (the Elemental series) and I loved this new book by her. She did such a great job of making the protagonists realistic and authentic, especially Thomas's internal pain and struggle! I am in awe of the "realness" of Kemmerer's books. So well-written!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I will email Kensington and beg. Every day if I have to - just give us a sequel! I know I'm not the only one pleading! There needs to be more to the story!
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