Official Review: Ever Told by Benjamin Bremasi

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joshfee77
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Official Review: Ever Told by Benjamin Bremasi

Post by joshfee77 »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Ever Told" by Benjamin Bremasi.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Ever Told is a "locked room" murder mystery by Benjamin Bremasi. The extended Harryngton family take a vacation at their holiday house, a large Victorian-style home in the country. One night, Jack and Cinthia Harryngton are brutally murdered, stabbed to death in a locked bedroom. There is no obvious evidence left at the scene, simply two bloodied bodies with a multitude of horrendous wounds. This leaves a houseful of potential suspects: Jack's brothers Tom, Mark and Andrew, Tom's wife Carol, their teenage daughter Samantha, Jack and Cinthia's son Noah and daughter Alice, and family friend Karen. The day before the murders, Jack announces his decision to sell the family business, angering all three of his brothers. To further thicken the plot, Cinthia's best friend Karen is having an affair with Jack, which he has just ended. Then there is the mysterious figure spotted at various times outside the house and believed responsible for a broken window and a phantom phone call. Maybe the killer isn't someone from inside the house at all...

I love locked room murder mysteries. Trying to figure out "whodunnit" and how is absolute mind-candy for any inquisitive reader of the crime genre. Bremasi constructs the story in an interesting fashion, jumping between "Past" and "Present" for each chapter, also labelling them with the date and either "The Day of the Murders" or "Two Days After the Murders" or similar. This organised approach makes it easy to follow the chronology of the story.

The first line of the book is a short, brutal attention-grabber: "The blood sprayed out of her like a faucet." There is also a great description of the setting: "They gazed at the beautiful lake lying in front of them as they moved through the yard, the glistening ice covering the water like a protective blanket." The story is engaging, with great tension generated by the person, possibly the killer, who is stalking both the family and an officer assigned to investigate the case. Bremasi also successfully paints one man as a brusque and unlikeable character, to the point where I really enjoyed his discomfort during a pointed police interview.

A few sentences are a little wordy, suggesting another edit might be worthwhile. "Drops of blood slowly dripped off it and landed lightly on the tiled floor below" could be written simply: "Blood slowly dripped off it onto the tiled floor." Crime readers know blood drips in drops, they know drops land lightly, and they know the floor is below. This drops an unwieldy fifteen-word sentence down to nine with no loss of meaning and arguably greater impact. Another example: "Mark just stared back at her with a blank look" is the same as "Mark just stared back at her blankly." Though writing teachers do recommend avoiding adverbs where possible, I would add the qualifier "unless you can replace four words with one".

There is another short passage with the word "still" used four times in three sentences, which is noticeably repetitive. Also, there are occasional uses of the incorrect (present) tense, such as "is" instead of "was" and "are" for "were". I found a few incorrect words, such as "their" for "they're" and "crevasse" for "crevice", and apostrophes in plurals, such as "Harryngton's" instead of "Harryngtons". A police officer also uses the phrase "spills the beans" at one point, which left me slightly incredulous - do the police really talk like that? Also, there are multiple examples of unusually spelled names: Cinthia (usually Cynthia), Harryngton (usually Harrington), Connway (usually Conway) and Jennson (usually Jenson). While I don't mind the occasional unusually spelled name, four in the one book seems like an unnecessary anomaly.

I must admit that most of these perceived negatives are very minor. Overall, Ever Told is a brilliantly plotted murder mystery. Rated on story alone, it is worth 4 stars without question. It is only minor editing issues which drop it to 3 out of 4 stars. The ending is dark and beautifully convoluted, fitting all the puzzle pieces neatly together and leaving the reader stunned. Regardless of its editing, I would recommend this book to any fan of the murder mystery genre, provided you don't mind gruesome crime scenes. Despite its minor issues, I'm confident you'll find it as satisfying as I did.

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Ever Told
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Post by kandscreeley »

It sounds like this one has great descriptions. I think it could be a big gruesome, but I can handle that. I'm curious as to how the murder happened in the locked room. I'm going to have to try this one in spite of the grammatical errors! Thanks!
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Post by MsTri »

I'm not usually a fan of "locked room" - or even "locked house" - stories, but this seems like just the book to turn me around! I especially love all the people involved and therefore all the motives. I will say that I'm not too keen on the idea of the one "brusque and unlikeable character", though I'm willing to overlook him for a good story. It's also interesting that I love the idea of all the unusually-named characters; I guess that just goes to show that there really are different strokes for different folks...Thanks so much for the introduction!
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Post by Debjani Ghosh »

I am eager to know the "dark and beautifully convoluted" ending of this murder mystery. Thanks for the review!
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Post by sonya01 »

I LOVE this kind of story, and see it as a challenge to be able to guess who the killer is well in advance, so after reading this review I'm sold and definitely will give it a try. One thing intrigues me: the title. What does it mean? Or do I have to read the book to find out? :D
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Post by kfwilson6 »

Locked room mysteries are so great, especially when there are many potential assailants. I love all the relationship dynamics that likely lead the reader down various paths throughout the story first making the reader think one suspect had to have done, then quickly shifting to make the reader certain it had to be someone else.
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Post by T_stone »

I am so curious at to how the mysterious murder was solved. Locked room murders are always engaging when there are a lot of characters involved.
Thank you for the review
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Post by lazybekah »

I was a bit distracted by the weirdly spelled names in your review so I can only imagine an entire novel. Cinthia is a particularly odd choice. However, murder mysteries are not easy to write so I admire anyone who can craft a good one. It's a shame about the technical flaws, but those are things that can be fixed. Congrats to the author and thanks to the reviewer for your honest take on it!
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Post by kdstrack »

That first sentence really makes me want to know the rest of the story. Sounds like this author takes your mind on an interesting journey. Great writing.
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Post by joshfee77 »

kandscreeley wrote: 24 Sep 2018, 13:53 It sounds like this one has great descriptions. I think it could be a big gruesome, but I can handle that. I'm curious as to how the murder happened in the locked room. I'm going to have to try this one in spite of the grammatical errors! Thanks!
Yeah, the plotting in this book is fantastic, especially the locked room scenario. I really think you'll enjoy it. Thanks for commenting!
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Post by joshfee77 »

MsTri wrote: 24 Sep 2018, 20:21 I'm not usually a fan of "locked room" - or even "locked house" - stories, but this seems like just the book to turn me around! I especially love all the people involved and therefore all the motives. I will say that I'm not too keen on the idea of the one "brusque and unlikeable character", though I'm willing to overlook him for a good story. It's also interesting that I love the idea of all the unusually-named characters; I guess that just goes to show that there really are different strokes for different folks...Thanks so much for the introduction!
This is indeed a well-written mystery thriller with excellent plotting. I was thoroughly impressed with the ending. Thanks!
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Post by joshfee77 »

Debjani Ghosh wrote: 24 Sep 2018, 22:36 I am eager to know the "dark and beautifully convoluted" ending of this murder mystery. Thanks for the review!
The ending was definitely the highlight of the book for me. Everything was explained beautifully. Thanks for your comments.
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Post by joshfee77 »

sonya01 wrote: 25 Sep 2018, 07:45 I LOVE this kind of story, and see it as a challenge to be able to guess who the killer is well in advance, so after reading this review I'm sold and definitely will give it a try. One thing intrigues me: the title. What does it mean? Or do I have to read the book to find out? :D
Yeah, unfortunately I was unable to explain the title for a good reason! Let me just say it was very well chosen. If you enjoy murder mysteries, you should definitely read this book!
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Post by joshfee77 »

kfwilson6 wrote: 25 Sep 2018, 10:29 Locked room mysteries are so great, especially when there are many potential assailants. I love all the relationship dynamics that likely lead the reader down various paths throughout the story first making the reader think one suspect had to have done, then quickly shifting to make the reader certain it had to be someone else.
The relationship dynamics are excellent in this one, and even better, everything is not quite as it seems. I highly recommend you read this if you like locked room murder mysteries. Thanks!
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Post by joshfee77 »

T_stone wrote: 25 Sep 2018, 11:08 I am so curious at to how the mysterious murder was solved. Locked room murders are always engaging when there are a lot of characters involved.
Thank you for the review
A very clever ending and explanation for the murders. Quite chilling, and certainly a great read. Thanks.
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