Gnome Notes: Emerson Sistare – ‘The Fury’ is an excellent winter read

“The Fury,” by Alex Michaelides.

“The Fury,” by Alex Michaelides. COURTESY PHOTO

By EMERSON SISTARE

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 02-07-2024 10:28 AM

A book review by The Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough.

‘The Fury,’ Alex Michaelides

In the dead of the New England winter, when the sun is setting before any of us get a chance to leave work, a compelling murder mystery is just what the bookseller ordered.

Author of two mysteries already, Alex Michaelides is a tried-and-true hand. His first book, “The Silent Patient,” arrived in 2019 to high praise and swiftly ascended the New York Times best-seller list. Now, Michaelides brings us his third book, “The Fury,” and he does not disappoint.

Dropped in medias res at the scene of the crime, the greatest movie star of the age is found dead on a remote island in the Mediterranean and the only people who have been on the island are her closest friends, so we are left to solve the crime.

In a world of sequels, prequels, side-quels, and remakes, it is refreshing to read a self-contained narrative with a steady rhythmic plot and just the right amount of character development. Michaelides toes the line exceptionally well -- say too little and we will not be invested in the characters or their resolutions, but say too much and perhaps tip his cap too severely and reveal too much of the plot ahead.

Elliot Chase is our vantage point and narrator. Something of a social climber, he finds himself at odds with his friends and dearest confidantes. Yet, despite their abrasive relationships, he is invited to vacation on a private Greek isle with them. It is here that Michaelides shows his talent as a suspense writer. Delivering short, punchy chapters, he packs these bite-sized snippets of Chase’s life full of potential motivation.

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It is difficult to write suspense that does not feel either that the author is drawing out the plot payoff too far, relying too heavily on cliffhangers and watering down the payoff, or alternatively, not building the requisite amount of suspense by way of those same cliffhangers and other hanging plot threads that may or may not be discussed later. It is a balance that Michaelides does very well as he keeps you engaged and proactive in your own suspicions and investigative journey.

Spanning a breezy 250ish pages, “The Fury” is an excellent winter read, full of twists and turns, that will have you vacationing on a Greek isle and planning your next career move into private instigation all while never stepping foot off the couch.

Emerson Sistare is owner of The Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough.