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FIND YOU FIRST by Linwood Barclay: Book Review

Linwood Barclay is an absolute master of new mystery tropes.  He proves that once again in his latest novel, FIND YOU FIRST.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel with a similar storyline.

The first thread of the novel concerns Miles Cookson, a tech billionaire, a man so focused on his career that he never has had a serious romantic relationship, much less a wife.  When he was young, he donated his sperm for some much-needed money but never thought about it again.  Now, however, he has received a devastating diagnosis–he has Huntington’s Disease Chorea, a rare, inherited disease that causes a breakdown in the nerve cells in the brain, with symptoms including difficulty in speaking, walking, and controlling involuntary jerking movements.

When Miles hears the news from his physician, his first thoughts are for himself and his brother.  Then the doctor, trying to soften the blow, tells him, “There is one piece of good news….You have no children,” because the children of someone with Huntington’s have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disease.  That’s when Miles becomes aware of the devastating repercussions of his long-ago sperm donation.  Does he have children and, if so, how many and how can he find out?  And then, what can he do about it?

The second thread concerns another billionaire, Jeremy Pritkin.  A friend of the rich and famous, Jeremy is concerned only with himself, his pleasures and desires.  His predilection for using young girls, and sharing them with his friends, is only  one of his many undesirable characteristics, and there’s nothing he won’t stop at to keep his hold on others–truly, nothing.

In the midst of hosting one of his parties, Jeremy gets a call from his sister, informing him that she’s found out something “that doesn’t make any sense at all” and wondering if he knows anything about it.  “Is it possible that we have relatives we’ve never even heard of?” she asks him.  And that is where the two threads connect.

Although both Miles and Jeremy are equally successful, their reactions to the information they receive are diametrically opposed.  As each man struggles to assimilate the news and how it affects him, the reader gains insight into the qualities that make us human.  And perhaps it makes us wonder how we might react if we heard that we had a fatal disease, one that unknowingly we might have passed on to future generations.

Linwood Barclay has written another outstanding novel, one that goes beyond the conventions of the mystery genre and asks us to consider questions we may not have thought of before.  Good and evil are exhibited to perfection in Find You First, as in a medieval morality play.

You can read more about Linwood Barclay at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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