March 23, 2021

Book Review


Jason M. Hough

reviewed by Fiona Cook

Who can you trust when even your own mind has been turned against you? Mary Whittaker is going to have to find out, in the latest pulse-raising thriller from Jason Hough.

Small-town America has never looked as appealing as with Silvertown, Mary’s new home and police beat. Life in the former company town may not have been easy since the company packed up and left, but the pleasingly off-beat citizenry have built the kind of community that can take those knocks and keep on running. They’re one of the many high points of the book – everyone introduced in the story is an individual, with character and personality. Jason Hough takes his time in introducing both people and town with the beginning of Instinct, and it’s time well spent; the pacing is perfect, and it builds a foundation to give the later action very real stakes.

Because, of course, quiet country life can’t stay that way for long. A series of unusual – and downright eerie – incidents soon place the Silvertown and its residents in jeopardy, and it’s going to be down to Mary to get to the bottom of the mystery. What looks like an isolated incident is soon linked to another matter, and then another. The tension ratchets slowly but surely, picking up speed and intensity, until I was left absolutely glued to the page and completely unable to read fast enough to satisfy my need to know just what was going on.

Without spoiling anything, I should mention that the central thread of this mystery is one of the most completely unsettling concepts I’ve had the pleasure of running across. The slow build-up, characters readers will genuinely enjoy getting to know, and, of course, an incredibly intriguing and creepy mystery, all play their part in making Instinct one of the most entertaining thrillers to hit shelves in a long time.

Happily, too, there’s clearly room for a continuation by the end, though it does form a completely stand-alone novel should it need to – none of the dreaded cliffhangers here. No tricks needed; should this become a series I’ll be continuing it in a heartbeat, it’s just that good.

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