SHORT & SWEET REVIEW: ALL THE LITTLE PIECES BY JILLIANE HOFFMAN

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). 

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Imagine you are driving late at night. It’s raining heavily and you don’t know the area at all. You might be lost. You pull over to rest in a tiny, empty town. And then someone bangs on the window, pleading for help. Behind her is a man. What would you do? This split-second decision forms the basis of Jilliane Hoffman’s latest read, All The Little Pieces. Here’s the blurb:

She could have stopped an awful crime. She could have saved a life. She tried to forget about it. But now, the truth is out. The terrifying new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Retribution and Pretty Little Things.

Faith Saunders is the perfect wife, mother and sister – loved and admired by all who know her. One night will change everything. As she drives home in the pouring rain, a dishevelled young woman appears out of nowhere, pleading for help. The isolated stretch of road is dark, and with her four-year-old daughter Maggie asleep in the backseat, Faith refuses to let the stranger in. What she sees next will haunt her forever. When the missing-person posters go up, Faith’s guilt consumes her. Then the girl’s body turns up, and her perfect life begins to unravel. Because it turns out Maggie wasn’t asleep that night and – unlike her mother – she’s not afraid to speak up. Maggie’s testimony leads to an arrest, but Faith is the only one who can identify a second man who was at the scene of the crime. She has one chance to convince a jury of what happened. If she fails, two murderers will go free – two men who have killed before and who will undoubtedly kill again. And they know exactly where to find Faith and her family…

Wow. All the Little Pieces turned out to be quite a ride. First, it sets up a difficult scenario, the big “What would you do?” That’s the start of the rollercoaster ride, and from there on, it gets pretty hairy. Faith’s decision, which the reader sees has more complex motivations than safety, has her creating a mountain after mountain of lies, only to fall harder each time. Her safety, marriage and mental health are are risk as her perfect life turns into the rollercoaster from hell. The cracks in the facade were there – Faith has a drinking problem and she’s having trouble getting over her husband’s affair – but her actions that rainy night, when she refused to help a stricken woman, serve as the catalyst for bringing everything into the open.

The story is part police procedural, part psychological thriller. While Faith’s life is laid bare, Detective Bryan Nil is acting on his suspicion that a serial murderer is at work, leading to more grisly finds, more questions, another suspect, the inevitable trial by media, and finally, a court case. Hoffman ties in all the elements well, delivering a fast-paced read full of drama, menace and suspense. The ending adds a final twist … and leaves the door open for another book featuring Detective Nils. If you like your story fast, your suspense taut, your villains extra nasty and your drama in your face, All the Little Pieces is a book for your reading pile.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $27.99). My copy was courtesy of Harper Collins Australia.