Laurence O’Bryan recently tweeted me at @anitajconroy to ask me to review his new book, The Manhattan Puzzle and I was pleased to do so. I hadn’t read Laurence’s previous books but this one sounded interesting and full of mystery, suspense and intrigue.
The story opens with a gruesome murder scene and we also meet Xena and Lord Bidoner. Every time we meet them they are definitely up to no good. Isabel is the main character and we follow her as she tries to track down Sean. Sean works for a global bank called BXH that is due to merge with a Chinese bank. But BXH has many secrets…. Isabel tracks Sean to Manhattan and through being brave and putting herself in a lot of danger finds out the truth and battles to save their lives in the end.
To be honest, I was disappointed with this book. The story is fast paced, sometimes too fast paced at times, and there is lots of mystery but it is lacking in atmosphere and suspense. The detail needed to create a truly amazing story is missing and events seem rushed as if of little significance. The characters seem under-developed to the point where we don’t really care about them or if they live or die. This could be because they were developed in the previous books of this series but for a new reader it is nice to have a little detail. Laurence talks about the wind being cold/icy a lot in the story to mirror the mood of the character and create a little suspense but it is not enough to make us feel that we are there with Isabel trying to find Sean. He assumes sometimes that we know what is going on and so leaves the detail out but that is not always true. I was intrigued by the rituals taking place but felt these were skimmed over. Also the puzzle solving was non-existent until the end. It is a shame as Laurence had set the story during the time when the banks were collapsing, explored how bankers were still living expensive lifestyles on their bonuses and mentioned the mysterious caverns that could be below New York filled with scary giant rats!
Laurence wrote this book to follow on from his previous 2 books – The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle and the story refers back to the events that took place in these books a lot. If you haven’t read these books, as I hadn’t, then we feel like we are missing important information that could make this story better.
This book had the potential to be an amazing read and to be honest the last 10 pages of the book were the best – fast paced, descriptive, action packed and that is what I expected the whole book would be like. Unfortunately it was not to be. Although I would recommend it to those of you who have read Laurence’s previous books and enjoyed them as it is a follow-on. But if you are looking for a new story full of suspense and mystery then this is not the book for you.
Have you read any of Laurence’s books? Let me know what you thought.