Tuesday 5 March 2019

NOT HERE by Genevieve Nocovo

3 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: Mystery/thriller set in San Francisco.

Dina Ostica, a 23 year old podcaster living alone in San Francisco, has a troubled background after escaping a difficult relationship.  The mystery begins when her friend, an old hippie who is her go-to source for material for her podcasts about life in and the history of the city, disappears.

I thought the atmosphere of the city came across as most authentic; it is clear that the author has a fine knowledge of the place.  I liked the subject matter; Dina's story was very 'current', with issues raised so relevant to this part of the 21st century.  The problem I had with the book as a whole, though, was that it felt rather flat.  There were too many irrelevancies that were not woven into the story, like what people wore and what they ate, intricate detail about gym sessions and mundane conversational exchanges.  Dina is written in the third person, in such a way that we never experience her inner thoughts; we are told how she feels, or what she thinks about something, but I felt that I was being supplied with information, rather than getting to know a character.

The plot is well put together (aside from the fact that I couldn't work out how Dina hoped to make enough money to live on from podcasting), the ideas are interesting and the book is professionally presented, but the writing itself needs some work if this series is to become memorable.  The information was all there, such as what a place looked like and what happened after what had happened previously, but I never felt involved in the story or the characters.

I believe this is the author's debut novel.  It is competent and the basics are there, with some excellent plotting and slow build of suspense; she just needs to work on really getting inside the head of her characters, seeking ways to make her storytelling more captivating, and her dialogue more realistic, character revealing and interesting.

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