The Manuscript

 The Manuscript by Nathan Hystad

Seattle detective, Jeremiah Trent, lives a solitary life until it's interrupted by an invitation from someone out of his past. Jay, now an incredibly successful author, asks Jeremiah and two other old friends to join him for a week at his mansion in Aspen, flights already booked and paid for. Jeremiah hesitates to reply because these four people have a long-held secret and getting together after all these years could bring a story best kept hidden to light again. 

They all decide to go, if only to see what it's all about, finding upon arrival that Jay has written a new novel he wants them to read and give feedback on. He allows them only one chapter at a time and while they read he sits in his locked office writing their reactions as things unfold. They soon realize that what they are reading is their own chilling story, just set in a different location and with the names changed. Each chapter makes them more uneasy and as the tension grows, questions and accusations arise. Then a buried body is discovered by local police and questions and accusations turn to fear. 

The first couple of pages reminded me of 1960's television detective-speak. Matter-of-fact, just-the-facts-Ma'am stuff. I could almost hear Jack Webb's expressionless voice reading the first line: "The dead eyes stared at me from across the room." I hoped the whole book wouldn't read like that, and thankfully it didn't; another few pages in and I was hooked. The tension builds as one surprising truth after another comes out, then suddenly it all hits the fan and you can't turn the pages fast enough. I had it figured out before the end but still there were surprises. The writing is average and the plot has a hole or two, but the suspense is definitely there and that makes it a pretty good read. 


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