Try Not to Breathe
June 20, 2023

Book Review

Try Not to Breathe

David Bell

reviewed by Pam Guynn

David Bell brings plenty of suspense and trepidation to his latest novel, Try Not to Breathe. Avery Rogers had a traumatic experience in the line of duty as a Kentucky State Police officer. She resigned her position and left her relationship with Hank. She’s now working as a college campus security officer to pay for graduate school.

Her father Russell Rogers, a retired police captain injured in the line of duty, calls Avery saying her half-sister is missing and in danger. Anna is fed up with her family and decided to attend a police brutality protest, but danger is not far away from her. Avery thinks Anna is just out with friends, but eventually agrees to search for her.

The author clearly differentiates the personality traits of the two sisters as well as their middle sister, Alisha. They came to life and readers can easily intuit even their hidden, unspoken feelings. Anna is partying too much, staying out late, and failing in school. She is also fed up with half-sister Avery who resents her and their domineering father. What has thrown Anna into a downward spiral? Avery suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and is somewhat estranged from her family. She’s a strong, but vulnerable protagonist. Why has she seemingly abandoned her family? Besides the two sisters’ points of view, readers also get insight into the antagonists through one of their viewpoints. There’s more going on than is initially obvious.

The characterization, world building, and pacing were well-done in this novel. Set mainly in and around fictional Rydell, Kentucky, this riveting thriller has a deeply involved plot, some twists and turns, and an action-packed ending. However, I felt the beginning was a little slow and there was a need for some additional clarification on the ending. A few things were left unresolved.

The author brings suspense, action, and intense moments to this fast-paced novel that is full of a sense of urgency and prose that flows well. It’s thought-provoking as family relationships, aging parents, friendships, bullying, crimes, and more are explored.

Overall, this novel was engrossing and kept me on the edge of my seat. While this is only the second book that I have read by this author, I am looking forward to reading more of his thrillers. Those who enjoy crime thrillers with great world-building and flawed main characters dealing with timely contemporary issues will likely find this novel a winner.

Berkley Publishing Group and David Bell provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently expected to be June 27, 2023.

Try Not to Breathe available at:

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