"Girl 4" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by Random House UK
Written by Will Carver
2011, 368 pages, Fiction
Released on April 1st, 2014
With Girl 4, Will Carver has crafted a spectacular thriller told in a very unique manner, but with a flaw that keeps it from being truly great. The book develops through a first-person narrative as told by each of the victims, the killer, and the detective trying to solve the riddle behind several gruesome murders. Told in a mix of present-time and flashbacks, we get to see each victim's thoughts behind the actions that lead them to their demise, as well as the standard cat-and-mouse game played by the killer and cop respectively. It's a wholly unique way to experience the story and it's quite gripping and makes the whole novel emotionally intense.
However, the ending is less than satisfactory. It all kind of concludes abruptly, but not definitively, in a manner that one assumes will be taken up in the next story, but isn't quite a cliffhanger either. It's more than a little frustrating. I wish Carver had written more to the story to lead us to that brink where the next one could start, but instead we're left to assume that with the killer caught everyone will get to resume their normal lives, an impossibility brought on by the dangling narrative thread. And that's a thread that should have been pulled to see what unravels. Without spoiling the story, I can say I was hoping for a confrontation where the hero, January David, lets the mastermind know that he figured it out, that he knows who's responsible, but that never happens in this book. It leaves the reader a touch deflated, because that should be the inevitable conclusion, and the results would be incendiary. Without that confrontation, it just falls flat. Carver never sets up the anticipation of that moment enough for the reader to hang on to that thread for the next books, The Two and Dead Set, which are available currently, but I'm feeling a bit too ambivalent towards the story right now to want to read them. After I've mulled it over and come to terms with my disengagement, I will probably pick it up to see if the resolution I crave is realized.
All of which is a great shame, because up until the end I greatly enjoyed it. It's a good read with an engaging and sympathetic lead, real emotions, and a cleverly plotted scenario. So, while I am disappointed by the wimpy ending, I would still recommend Girl 4, but I need to set the expectation that not everything is as resolved as I expect it to be. Carver creates a great lead with potential for a long running series of books in the January David saga, but the stories he tells need more clarity on which can be teased and serialized, and which need resolution for the reader's satisfaction.