Sunday, March 19, 2017

Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith - Book Review

"Follow Me Down" by Sherri Smith is set in the fictional town of Wayoata, North Dakota. In typical small town USA fashion, Wayoata likely has five or six traffic lights, a local grocery store,  and a high school sports team for everyone to rally around- and rarely, a serious crime. The town is shocked when a beautiful high school senior girl is murdered, and one of her teachers, the lead suspect, goes missing. Like Mia, the main character, I was equally charmed and wary of Wayoata - never knowing who to trust, or what might happen next. And just like a good small town rumor mill, "Follow Me Down" sucked me in....

Follow Me Down
by Sherri Smith
Mia Haas has built her life far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she is forced to return home. Back to the people she left behind, the person she used to be, and the secrets she thought she’d buried. Once hailed as the golden boy of their town, and now a popular high school teacher, Lucas Haas disappears the same day the body of one of his students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect. All the while, she wonders: If he’s innocent, why did he run? As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas―or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s lives are intertwined, Mia must confront her own demons if she wants to get out alive.

Loved the main character and her return to hometown
Before starting "Follow Me Down" I was intrigued and attracted to the premise, particularly Mia's return to her small hometown in North Dakota. The city girl returning to her hometown roots spoke to my love of movies like "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Hope Floats" - embarrassing, perhaps, but really  there is just so much story telling potential there! The connections and relationships are older, stronger, and also potentially broken, with a long, rich history already established. This was certainly the case for Mia and her return to Wayoata, North Dakota. Mia's mother lives in a rehabilitation center due to a previous alcohol related accident, the police chief investigating her brother's disappearance is far from a family friend, the police officer working with Mia was a middle school friend and her first kiss, and many of the parents of the students involved in the murder investigation are former classmates as well. At times the murder mystery plot fell away, but in its place were some incredibly interesting relationship dynamics. The author, Sherri Smith, did an excellent job using this story telling formula to make a rich and engaging community of characters.

Good twists and turns
Through the course of the book, there are a handful of characters you consider for the "whodunit". One of my favorite elements in "Follow Me Down" was this constant guessing game for Mia. Mia's internal dialogue was frequently a run down of why any one character might have killed Joanna or her brother. It was at times hilarious, the story Mia could so quickly build in her mind about how or why a character might've had motive to commit the crime. But between the laughs, I was also eyeing the characters, feeling no one could be trusted, and wondering who the real suspects might be. Sherri Smith created a community of suspicious characters, but they are also very real and their actions, while at times suspicious, also felt justified. While reading, it felt like each turn of the page left me hoping that the solution to the mystery was just around the corner. This book is definitely a page turner!

Things I Struggled With
Okay, so yes, I do love "Hope Floats" and "Sweet Home Alabama", and a common thread in those movies are immediate love interests - and while they are swoon worthy in those movies, I don't love them quite as much in my reading. Sherri Smith has such a solid murder mystery here, and such great characters, that the romance plot lines cropping up quickly felt a little unnecessary and took away from my enjoyment of the mystery's suspense. Also, my type A personality really struggled with Mia's decision to drop her job in Chicago with no notice. She leaves suddenly, and understandably when she finds out that her brother is missing, but then spends an additional 16 days there with little discussion of the job she has left behind.What? She talks about the extreme expenses she is responsible for, from her apartment and infirm mother- yet seems fairly unconcerned that she may no longer have an income? Just seemed a little off.

I really enjoyed reading "Follow Me Down" and how it kept me guessing until the very end. Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought about it below! Thinking about reading this book? Click here to find a copy at your local library or click below to view the book on Amazon.

Many thanks to Macmillian/ Forge for allowing me to read this book prior to publication. As a "girl about library", where books are always free, you can be sure that all opinions expressed are my own. Happy reading!


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