Monday, August 29, 2016

You Will Know Me

If the Rio Olympics non-stop coverage of the “Final Five” wasn’t enough and you’re still jonesing for more yurchenkos and floor exercises, you might want to check out You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, the author’s latest mystery set amidst the cutthroat world of girl’s gymnastics.

From the publisher: "How far will you go to achieve a dream? That's the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits--until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself irresistibly drawn to the crime itself. What she uncovers--about her daughter's fears, her own marriage, and herself--forces Katie to consider whether there's any price she isn't willing to pay to achieve Devon's dream."

While an engaging read, You Will Know Me didn’t quite live up to the hype for me. The plot was compelling, the characters well written, but though the writing was taut and the storyline fraught with a tension that early on kept me curious and turning the pages, the suspense never crescendoed and instead remained at a singular flat note; interesting but by no means ‘thrilling’. As for the mystery itself, well, it wasn’t much of one, especially given the heavy handed foreshadowing employed by the author at various points. In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess that that my lack of enthusiasm for the book is in part due to my dissatisfaction with the tale’s resolution. What can I say, the real world is far from perfect, so when it comes to literary fiction I want my romances to have happy endings and in mystery/thrillers, my bad guys to get their well-deserved comeuppance.

I'm 0 for 2 when it comes to this author, as I had a similar experience with her 2014 novel, The Fever; another edgy teen-focused mystery that was all the rage at the time. Though I can wholeheartedly concede that Abbott is a good author with novels featuring intriguing plots and nuanced three-dimensional characters (with a special gift for writing angsty teenage girls that are the perfect mix of wide-eyed innocence and lolita-esque menace), there's been just that little something (je ne sais quoi) missing in each story that's kept them at blah and shy of BLAM.

You Will Know Me’s window into the high-pressure, high-stakes world of gymnastics was definitely intriguing, but on the whole, I felt the author didn’t quite stick her landing.