Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Book Review: The Silent Second by Adam Walker Phillips (Chuck Restic #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great new characters, strong mystery
Cons: Dark tone, certainly darker than I was expecting
The Bottom Line:
Missing employee
Starts Chuck on a crazy ride
That is dark in tone

Good, but Not the Tone I Was Expecting

Over a year ago, I was at a library event where Adam Walker Phillips was one of the authors.  With his background in HR and his protagonist working in HR at a nameless Los Angeles company, I thought the series could be fun.  The Silent Second starts this series, but the tone wasn’t what I expected.

Chuck Restic has spent twenty years in HR, and he’s good at his job – making sure employees get along so they don’t sue each other or, more importantly, the company.  That’s how he first meets Ed, who has had a complaint filed against him.  Ed seems like a nice guy, and their meeting goes well, but then Ed disappears a couple of days later.  A plea from Ed’s family to figure out what happened to him intrigues Chuck.  He’s recently separated from his wife, and he wants to do something to fill his time away from work, so he uses his boredom as an excuse to start poking around.  The trail quickly leads to real estate around Los Angeles, but how could that have led to Ed’s disappearance?

From listening to the author and the descriptions of the book I’d read, I was expecting a more comedic book.  Yes, there are some parts that made me laugh, mainly when Chuck was in full HR mode or talking about what HR is really like.  However, the overall tone of the book was dark.  This didn’t completely surprise me since the blurbs on the book compared it to some hard-boiled authors and stories.  I guess I was just expecting more of a mix of the two, when it was very heavy on the hard-boiled side.

Now, this isn’t to say the book is bad.  The mystery starts off quickly and never lets up.  We get plenty of twists and red herrings along the way.  I was surprised by the solution yet it all made sense when Chuck figured it out.

And the characters are good.  I doubt I would have felt the darker tone if I didn’t care about some of them.  Chuck is a relatable main character – maybe a bit too relatable to some of us mid-life people working in the corporate world.  We can easily relate to some of the people he meets along the way as the story unfolds.  There is no obvious villain that should be hated; all of the characters are well-rounded people.

This book was pleasantly light on graphic violence, sex, or foul language.  There are a couple of four-letter words sprinkled throughout the book, but everything else is just hinted at.  I will admit, I had wondered if that would be the case when I picked up the book.

I’m still on the fence about reading another book in this series.  I liked Chuck, enjoyed this book overall, and am intrigued to see where his future adventures take him.  If I do pick up the sequel to The Silent Second, it will be when I’m in the mood for something more on the serious side of the mystery genre.

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