Thursday, February 25, 2016

Book Review: What You See by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Jane Ryland #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and a story that’s hard to put down
Cons: Tension takes a bit to build.
The Bottom Line:
Stabbing in daylight
While Jane’s family distracts
Builds to page turner

What I See?  Another Great Book

Over the years, Hank Phillippi Ryan has earned a reputation for her page turning novels – and that reputation is well earned.  What You See is the latest in her Jane Ryland series, and it is another book that will leave you reading well into the night.

Now this series is officially titled the Jane Ryland series, but I would argue that Jane’s boyfriend Jake Brogan should be just as much a part of the series title.  They are both equally important characters in each book, contributing to the solution of the plot.

Boston detective Jake Brogan has landed a case with too many witnesses.  A man has been stabbed in the middle of a small park near city hall at lunch time, and there are cameras and cell phones all around.  Did one of these eye witnesses see the stabbing?  Or did they capture a clue on their phone?

Meanwhile, reporter Jane Ryland is trying to land a new job.  When the call about the stabbing comes in, she is interviewing at a TV station and is the only person around, so she heads out to cover it on a freelance basis.  However, a family crisis with her sister’s wedding threatens to derail her career comeback.  Can she solve her family’s problems?

If you are new to the series, you can certainly jump in here.  Jane and Jake are wonderful characters, and it is easy to figure out their history from comments and exposition here.  While a tiny bit of a sub-plot from the previous book is spoiled (explaining why Jane is once again unemployed), nothing major from any of the previous books is spoiled.

There really are two plots in this book that weave in and out of each other seamlessly.  The book is a bit slow as the stories are built up, but once they get going, this book is a page turner.  I had a hard time putting it down, always wanting to read just a little bit more.  This book is longer than the books I normally read, but it didn’t feel like it as I was glued to the page.  Of course, everything builds to a satisfying climax.

The story unfolds from multiple viewpoints, including Jane and Jake.  This allows us to get to know several characters very well, which helps since we have a large cast of new characters here.  All the characters are real, becoming fully fleshed out before we are too far into the book.

Unfortunately, the cuts between the multiple viewpoints was part of the problem early on in the book.  In an effort to create tension, we had some quick cuts that were supposed to be suspenseful but were more annoying than suspenseful.  As we got to know the new characters and the plots built, switching to another part of the story became a welcome thing because I needed to know what was going to happen.

I saw a description of this series recently that referred to it as cozy thriller.  While I don’t know if I would go quite that far, these definitely fall closer to the soft boiled spectrum than the pure cozies I usually read.  Mostly, this is noticeable in a few well-placed swear words.  And the plot is definitely a step closer to thriller than cozies generally are as well, with more tension and more at stake but without the violence that genre usually has.  Just keep this in mind as you pick it up to read.

Because I definitely recommend you read What You See.  You’ll be caught up in the story before you know it.

Once you read one, you'll want to read the rest of the Jane Ryland Mysteries in order.


  1. I really need to read something by this author. I'm sure ever review I've read has been favorable. This one sounds like a page turner.

    1. She's a popular author, and there's a reason for it. She tells a great story.


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