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Readable But Not Memorable

  • May 5, 2010
  • by
Andrew Gross presents himself here as one of the mystery genre's most sustainability-conscious authors: Whether it's a beautiful witness in danger, a boss telling him to go easy, a compromising roll in the hay, or a brother with a dark secret, there isn't a cliché he won't recycle.

I got this 2009 novel for free a year ago as part of Amazon's Vine program, but never got around to my obligatory review until now. Let me say something positive right up front and note "Don't Look Twice" is one of those page-turners undemanding readers may well enjoy, with short chapters, a tough but compassionate hero, plenty of action, and no big words.

It also features Greenwich, Connecticut, the town I grew up in, and you can definitely tell Gross has been here. The streets intersect just as he describes them. The main street is indeed called Greenwich Avenue. The gas station next to the car wash on West Putnam Avenue, where the book opens with a gangland-style shooting, is where I happened to fill up the very same afternoon before beginning this book.

Nothing happened to me. I don't quite understand how anything happened to the victim in the opening pages. We learn in the first 100 pages that it was a targeted hit, with a red-herring clue left in the getaway car involving the gas station's owner, but how did the killers know the victim would be stopping at that particular station for a routine fill-up? If the victim thought he was meeting someone, Gross never says. It's the sort of coincidence that Hitchcock might have called "icebox talk", something you think of only after the plot has done its job, yet here it stuck out more. As the story progresses, these kind of coincidences and plot conveniences pile up - fast.

It would all be better if there was more to the mystery. Essentially what initially seems an attack on a gas station owner turns out a revenge hit on a casino-robbing U.S. attorney who may in fact have been set up by dark forces more powerful than you and I can understand.

At one point, the book's hero, recurring Gross character Ty Hauck, is introduced to a trick called the "false shuffle", in which a dealer serves up predetermined cards to help a player cheat his way to victory. I felt like Gross was dealing out a few of these himself.

Other than his will to seeing a job through, there's not much to distinguish Hauck. He walks into a few traps you see coming, like one with a winsome casino dealer which is meant to frighten him off the case. The antagonists of the story are supposed to be highly efficient, with tendrils of influence extending everywhere, yet they leave way too much of a mess to be believable. What lies beneath the story is a political angle like "Six Days Of The Condor", and like-minded readers will find it reassuringly dark and full of corruption, yet it is introduced late and ties in very awkwardly with Hauck's side of the story.

The characters are basic, the dialogue pat, the settings bare-bones; Gross may know Greenwich but doesn't really write about it, except to note there's people with a lot of money living there. After a slam-bang opening that draws you in, the plot stretches out and runs you around for a while, losing steam.

The latter half is where it picks up steam again; the subplot with Hauck's estranged brother works pretty well once you ignore those big hairy coincidences. Gross is an efficient-enough author who even manages to reference his book's title into one of its most quotable lines: "I looked at everything I had, every which way I could find, and didn't see...And then I looked twice."

Readers who don't read twice are this book's target audience; it's certainly an effective-enough way to kill an afternoon under the sun. But if you're like me and crave mysteries that engage and stick with you after you're done reading them, you may feel let down.

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More Don't Look Twice: A Novel reviews
review by . July 14, 2009
Lieutenant Ty Hauck returns in this sequel to "The Dark Tide" with a bang. It has been a year since those events and much has changed. Hauck has become something of a media darling. His relationship with Karen has become increasingly problematic far beyond the different worlds they inhabit. Then, there is his 13 year old daughter, Jessie who is moving into adolescence and Ty is experiencing the culture shock that hits all fathers. He has all that and a lot more on his mind on a routine Saturday …
review by . March 24, 2009
BRIEF SYNOPSIS:  Lieutenant Ty Hauck was with his daughter at a gas station when a drive by shooting occurred. What first appears to be revenge by a local gang is slowly uncovered as a deeper conspiracy. Lt. Hauck is told to back off and let it be; but Lt. Hauck cannot accept that and digs deeper and deeper as the book unfolds.    OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:  DON'T LOOK TWICE is a fairly standard murder mystery thriller. At times, the plot is all over the place, …
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Bill Slocum ()
Ranked #299
Reading is my way of eavesdropping on a thousand conversations, meeting hundreds of new and fascinating people, and discovering what it is about the world I enjoy most. Only after a while, I lose track … more
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About this book


In this dramatic new novel following the bestselling The Dark Tide, a drive-by shooting rocks the posh suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, and an innocent bystander is left dead.

Detective Ty Hauck plunges into what seems like a vicious case of retribution and follows the trail to a sinister gambling scheme at an upstate casino. Until Annie Fletcher, a young restaurateur in the midst of rebuilding her life, witnesses something she shouldn't have—and immediately runs to him with what she knows. Suddenly, Hauck is pulled into a rising storm far greater than it first appeared—a storm wide enough to encompass corruption inside Greenwich's circle of wealthy and powerful citizens. And punishing enough to consume Hauck's own family, and tear brothers apart forever . . . if it doesn't kill them first.

Don't Look Twice is a gripping story of profiteering on an international scale and an emotionally resonant domestic thriller from one of the hottest new talents in suspense fiction.

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ISBN-10: 0061143448
ISBN-13: 978-0061143441
Author: Andrew Gross
Publisher: William Morrow

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