Will Dean’s The Last Thing to Burn (reviewed here) was one of my books of the year in 2021 so I could not have been happier when Jenny Platt invited me to participate in the blog tour for Will’s latest stand alone novel, First Born. I’m delighted to share my review of First Born today.
I previously reviewed one of Will’s Tuva Moodyson novels, Bad Apples here too.
Published by Hodder and Stoughton on 14th April 2022, First Born is available for pre-order through the links here.
THE LAST THING A TWIN EXPECTS IS TO BE ALONE …
Molly lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.
Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.
But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.
Delivering the same intensity of pace and storytelling that made The Last Thing to Burn a word-of-mouth sensation, First Born will surprise, shock and enthral.
My Review of First Born
Molly’s twin sister Katie has died in New York.
I thoroughly enjoyed First Born because it’s brilliantly plotted, twisty and exciting. It’s one of those books that doesn’t let you put it down until you’ve devoured it completely. It’s also impossible to say anything more about the plot without spoilers!
The pace is fast and engaging so that just when the reader thinks they have the measure of events, Will Dean wrong foots them. There’s a bubbling undercurrent of menace and mis-trust that leaves the reader feeling uneasy and desperate to know the outcome of the narrative.
It’s difficult to identify quite why, but First Born couldn’t have been set anywhere better than New York. The descriptions of the city are sharp and authentic and I think the concepts that it’s a city that never sleeps, a place where people can be anonymous and a place where it’s possible to start again and reinvent yourself in the way Jimmy the street vendor has done for example, are presented perfectly here.
The characterisation is fascinating because First Born explores identity, jealousy, obsession and vulnerability with razor sharp perception. I loved the insight into the relationship between Molly and Katie. Molly’s peril obsessed OCD is both convincing and pitiful, in the true sense of the word, whilst simultaneously feeling astute and sensible so that the reader has empathy for her whilst being grateful they are not like her. This has the effect of drawing in the reader to the story and making them question their own behaviours and habits.
As well as the intriguing plot in First Born there are layers of interest that add depth and texture. The dark web, exploitation, fame, revenge, relationships from the sexual through the familial to the platonic, are all aspects that thrum through the story. As a result I found First Born completely fascinating as well as entertaining.
It’s tricky to review First Born without giving away too much about the plot, but First Born is a cracker of a book and I really recommend it.
About Will Dean
Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands and lived in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize and named a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. The second Tuva Moodyson thriller, Red Snow, won ‘Best Independent Voice’ at the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards, 2019, and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020. The third novel, Black River, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021. Rights for the series have been sold in eight territories (France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Czech Republic, China and Turkey).
Will lives in Sweden where the Tuva Moodyson novels are set. TV Rights to Dark Pines have been optioned by Lionsgate, the producers of Mad Men, with plans for a multi-part series featuring Tuva Moodyson.
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