Latest (Early) Reads: How It Happened Michael Kortya

Publication Date: 17 May 2018 from Hodder and Stoughton

Source: Review Copy

“And that is how it happened. Can we stop now?”

Kimberly Crepeaux is no good, a notorious jailhouse snitch, teen mother, and heroin addict whose petty crimes are well-known to the rural Maine community where she lives. So when she confesses to her role in the brutal murders of Jackie Pelletier and Ian Kelly, the daughter of a well-known local family and her sweetheart, the locals have little reason to believe her story. 
Not Rob Barrett, the FBI investigator and interrogator specializing in telling a true confession from a falsehood. He’s been circling Kimberly and her conspirators for months, waiting for the right avenue to the truth, and has finally found it. He knows, as strongly as he’s known anything, that Kimberly’s story-a grisly, harrowing story of a hit and run fueled by dope and cheap beer that becomes a brutal stabbing in cold blood-is how it happened. But one thing remains elusive: where are Jackie and Ian’s bodies?

After Barrett stakes his name and reputation on the truth of Kimberly’s confession, only to have the bodies turn up 200 miles from where she said they’d be, shot in the back and covered in a different suspect’s DNA, the case is quickly closed and Barrett forcibly reassigned. But for Howard Pelletier, the tragedy of his daughter’s murder cannot be so tidily swept away. And for Barrett, whose career may already be over, the chance to help a grieving father may be the only one he has left.

How It Happened was a really great twisty, crime character drama, centred around Rob Barrett, an FBI agent searching for the truth behind the deaths of a local couple in a tight knit rural Maine community. A place he knows well, where a few characters from his past linger, this becomes somewhat of an obsession..

I love crime novels like this one that are beautifully written and manage to create a lot of character depth and engagement whilst also twisting a mystery cleverly enough to keep you unsure of the outcome. In this case we have a girl who has a bad reputation, where local knowledge would normally persuade you that she is lying – however this particular agent knows something deep down and so spends pretty much the entire story trying to prove that her version of events is indeed true – against seemingly impossible odds.

It is important to care about the characters and I found Kimberly to be strangely sympathetic – everyone is against her, even the evidence is, ultimately even Rob isn’t sure. In that way that we love to root for the underdog, the author makes us want her to be vindicated. Around all this other clues and town secrets emerge, our main protagonist has to allow that perhaps he has a certain amount of bias and all the while one father sits in the background waiting, waiting for someone to tell him why his daughter is lost to him.

It is intricately and wonderfully woven, atmospheric and often claustrophobic – I was totally riveted by it and the finale did not disappoint. An all round excellent bit of storytelling.


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