120,000 words, 336 pages, 11 hrs and 11 mins to read
Expected publication January 23, 2024
Published by Poisoned Pen Press
3.49 out of 5 on Goodreads
Our Rating: 3.5 out of 5
What Is Twenty Seven Minutes by Ashley Tate About?
In the small town of West Wilmer, the community grapples with the mystery of why Grant Dean waited 27 minutes to call for help on the night of a car accident that claimed the life of his sister, Phoebe. As the anniversary of Phoebe’s death approaches, Grant is haunted by memories and a secret he’s kept. Becca, who was also in the car that night, knows the truth and is determined to help Grant. Meanwhile, another resident named June, who’s brother Wyatt went missing the same night, receives a visitor who may hold the key to what really happened on the bridge.
What Was Good About Twenty Seven Minutes
The story started with an intense and fairly brutal opening of the events of the fateful evening. This prologue set the scene well and after finishing it I was more than ready to get into the mysteries around what happened on the bridge that night.
The story then took a slight turn. The pace reduced and it soon felt more like a slow burning character study, which continued throughout the majority of the book. The characters were all well crafted, with depth and layers beyond what many other novels I’ve recently read could manage. Even though it moved slowly, the mystery was always there and was delivered through small snippets, flashbacks and tiny reveals as the characters grew and were explored. Then, as the finale approached, everything came together in an intense ending that I think shows what the book was truly about. Trauma.
I won’t go into too much more as it’ll be difficult to do that without spoiling anything, but I think it’s important to know this when going into it. Expect more of a character study with mystery elements, rather than a fast paced mystery.
Another part of the book that I thought was worth mentioning is how well it was written. The prose was of a high quality and some of it flowed really quite well and was a joy to read. Each character felt like they had their own style which helped build them into what felt like real people.
What Was Bad About Twenty Seven Minutes
For me, one of the major downsides to this was that it could be slow and difficult to get through at times. This wasn’t because of the subject matter but because the writing could often be quite repetitive and I felt like this made it stray into melodrama that didn’t fit the tone as well as it could have done. Even though the writing is good, there was only so many times a single character could tell you how awful and painful their lives and memories were until you start to lose patience. I think that the whole book could have benefited by tightening up those sections and bringing the total word count down by about 25%. It would have got the reader to the reveal at the end much quicker but could easily have maintained the in-depth look at the characters and their experiences. I think it would have been a better book for it.
Another thing for me that just creeps into what I didn’t enjoy was that none of the characters were likeable. Basically all of them had dislikeable traits and motives and even the more positive characters ultimately were consumed by selfishness with very little to redeem themselves. I think when I realised that this was a character study it helped to justify that and when I realised this was an examination of trauma it made sense. But what it didn’t do was make it any easier to read. If you’re someone that has to follow a positive character on a plot-heavy quest of good, then this will not be for you.
Overall, this isn’t just another basic mystery and has actually stuck with me quite a lot since I finished it. What it is instead, is a story about trauma and the ways that people in this little town have dealt with this incident over the last 10 years. Now yes, there are unlikable characters and it can sometimes be a bit of a slog which definitely slows down the story, but that’s kind of the point. They aren’t meant to be super likeable, relatable characters as they’re all struggling in their own ways with a seriously traumatic event and this is the exploration of that, wound up in a small scale but tightly written mystery. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in reading then you’ll probably love it. If it’s not, you probably won’t.
Thanks to NetGalley, Poisoned Pen Press and Ashley Tate for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Other Reviews You May Like
For More of Anything: