Title: Second Cousin Once Removed
Author: Kenneth L. Toppell
Year of Publication: 2020
Number of Pages: 232
Summary: From Goodreads: “Henry Attkinson’s life as an attorney is slow, predictable, and lonely, given his divorce and his ex-wife’s custody of the kids. He recently took up genealogy as a hobby to fill the time, but it doesn’t do much to spice up his mundane routine. Until the day he prods at a dead end of one of the branches of his family tree. Who is this cousin Shelley, whom he’s never met or even heard of in years? Ignoring a warning to leave well enough alone, Henry still doesn’t find much in his deeper delve into the mystery–just a concerning criminal record for the man that finally convinces him to drop the matter. But Shelley is a man who doesn’t want to be found or even looked for. And now he knows someone has been looking. Faster than he knows what’s hit him, Henry is propelled into sudden mayhem, receiving ominous threats, meeting mysterious strangers, and running for his life. Second Cousin Once Removed is a fast-paced, sweaty-palm thriller that will keep you hooked until the last page.”
Review: Thank you, Dave, at The Write Reads for organizing and inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. Thank you to the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Second Cousin Once Removed falls into the mystery/thriller category. Henry Attkinson has a predictable life. He is a semi-retired attorney who is doing some research on his family tree. When he decides to look into a mysterious second cousin, Shelly Garçon, with a criminal past, it takes him and his new friend Carolyn on an unexpected adventure and on the run from a dangerous man.
The premise of this book is the exact reason why I have no interest in genealogy or family trees. Years ago, when my Uncle was looking into our family tree, my Dad told him that he had no interest in digging and finding out that their Great Great Uncle was a horse thief or something like that, and frankly, I agree. Despite having no interest in my family tree, the premise did sound interesting, and it was a relatively quick read. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me, and it was more of the kind of thing that my Dad would enjoy.
This book was a quick read. The pacing was steady enough that I didn’t get bored or too overwhelmed. It had lots of twists and turns, and I enjoyed the game of cat and mouse between Henry & Carolyn and Shelly. There were a few confusing moments, especially when Henry and Carolyn were using fake names, but I got used to it after a while.
I liked the characters, and I generally liked their personalities. However, I did find myself getting annoyed with how many times Henry’s age was mentioned. I liked that Henry and Carolyn spent so much time doing their research in the library and reading about them connecting the dots between the different murders. There were a few moments where Carolyn’s body was mentioned, and I found them unnecessary, and really, I found most of the romance unnecessary. I also liked Shelly, and I was fascinated by his criminal activities and his twisted sense of justice.
Overall, this book was alright, but nothing made it stand out to me. The twists and turns kept it interesting, the characters were decent, and it had an unexpected ending. As I mentioned earlier, this is the kind of book that I think my Dad would enjoy (he mainly reads Patterson, Baldacci, Grisham, and Archer), and it’s a good choice if you’re looking for a quick page-turner.
Rating: 3 Stars