BookBrowse Reviews Descent by Tim Johnston

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by Tim Johnston

Descent by Tim Johnston X
Descent by Tim Johnston
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 384 pages

    Dec 2015, 400 pages


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Descent is a perfectly crafted literary thriller that races to its heart-pounding conclusion

Part literary novel, part thriller, part psychological drama, Descent is a novel in a unique category unto itself. Tim Johnston's storytelling captured the hearts of 22 out of 23 of BookBrowse's readers, who gave it 4 or 5-stars - and made their hearts pound fast too! Here is why:

Descent is the story of the Courtland family and their daughter Caitlin's abduction and the efforts to track her down. But on a deeper level, it is about the physical and emotional toll the abduction and its aftermath take upon the whole family; it's that descent that brings the title of this book into focus (Kathleen S.) Tim Johnston has written a suspenseful kidnapping story while depicting the main characters' sadness, guilt and helplessness in a way that makes them real and unforgettable. This book makes a powerful impression on the reader. Bravo! (Linda K) Descent's descriptions of isolation, coldness and loss are paralyzing, and the dialogue is tight and reflects the conservation of energy needed to exist in this landscape (Tracy N.) Every once in a rare while a book is written that fulfills every requirement a reader is looking for. Tim Johnston has mastered that in Descent (Lydia M.)

Readers were especially impressed with Tim Johnston's use of language in the book:

This book drew me in like a magnet. The story is simple. A girl disappears and her family searches for her. But what Tim Johnston does with this story is amazing – it is a wonderful language experience. Don't miss this one! (Patricia D) The author uses stunning, poetic prose to tell this brutal and heartbreaking story from multiple perspectives (Phyllis R.) Normally, I have little patience for so much descriptive writing, but this was executed so well that I found myself drawn into the moods of the characters and their surroundings (I could even smell the mountain pines.)…This is a thrilling, well-written work, which will have your heart pounding as you tear through to the end. It is one of the best I have read, and I am pleased to have found a new author (Elinor M.)

This is not your usual thriller:

To employ the term "lyrical thriller" might seem an oxymoron, but not after you have begun reading this extraordinary novel. The lyricism comes from Johnston's poetic descriptions of the natural world. The standard materials for a thriller - young woman mysteriously disappears, the resultant family fears, the seeming insolubility of the case - may ring distantly familiar, but Johnston adds elements of love and concern not often found in popular thrillers. His careful descriptions of individuals and their reactions to events lift this novel out of the ordinary (William Y.) Descent is an intelligent and riveting story. The author's descriptions of the characters and surroundings gave me the sensation of being there. I could smell the fragrances, feel the snow on my face and could hear the wind and the sound of metal links (Mary A.) Johnston is a master of prose and is able to paint a picture and to make you feel that you are actually a part of the action (Steve B). This is not what you'd expect from a thriller, but so much more (Lauren T.)

Some readers felt the story had a slow and confusing start, but picked up speed and clarity as the pages turned:

Descent is a psychological family study for the first half then picks up speed to become a true movie thriller by the end. I found the beginning to be a bit slow and had to adjust to the chapters alternating between various characters (Liz B.) I usually enjoy reading stories told from the perspectives of different characters, but this book was a bit choppy (Gail L.) If only the beautifully written passages of the landscape, the crime, and the chase had not been preceded by the confusing style in the beginning of the book, I would have given it a 5 (Janis H.) The first part of the book is a little confusing since it is told by many characters at different times in their lives, but you will soon put it together and sit down for a long and enjoyable ride (Roe P.)

More was a common word heard from these readers – they wanted to see more from Tim Johnston:

Descent is a page turner and it kept my interest. The only fault I'd assign is that I would have liked to have known what happened next...what's the next chapter? (Diana J) I read this book in one day because I just needed to know how it ended. And I believe there could be a sequel in there too (Cindy C.) On the one hand, this masterful novel grabbed me from the first chapter and I didn't want to put it down. On the other hand, I didn't want to read too fast or too far so that I could dole out the pages like bites of a splendid meal! I want to meet the author and tell him to begin writing his next book immediately so that I don't have to wait too long for another serving of his gifted prose (Linda K.) This book held my attention from the first page, and I'm hoping it is made into a film. It would be great! (Linda J)

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2015, and has been updated for the December 2015 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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