Even Review
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It all starts with a body—just some bum in an alley. But when Royal Navy secret agent David Trevellyan stops to help, he suddenly finds that he’s the NYPD’s main suspect. Thinking he’ll call the consulate and use his job as a Get Out of Jail Free card, he’s surprised when the government backs away—and he’s handed over to the FBI.

Trevellyan soon learns that the body in the alley wasn’t just another bum; he was an undercover FBI agent—one who was investigating a string of deaths. The FBI is convinced that Trevellyan was hired to kill Agent Raab—and they expect him to reveal who hired him. Unfortunately, since Trevellyan wasn’t involved, he doesn’t know who wanted Raab dead—but he intends to find out.

First-time novelist Andrew Grant definitely doesn’t hold anything back with his debut thriller. It’s fast-paced and full of surprises, and it’s sometimes shockingly, unabashedly violent. As the story races along, you’ll certainly have no idea where Trevellyan will end up next—but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Even is a prime example of a novel that tries to do too much. Apparently not satisfied to come out of the gate with a simple, straightforward thriller, Grant keeps tacking on perilous new plotlines and evil new villains. And while each one could be interesting on its own, none of them are particularly well-developed, leaving readers with more questions than answers. Meanwhile, the connections from one plotline to the next are tenuous at best—and, after a while, it all feels far-fetched and needlessly complex. It’s three novels’ worth of stories, while just one well-developed story would have sufficed.

Perhaps the novel’s complexities could have been overlooked, though, if the main character had been likeable—or even relatable. Grant sets Trevellyan up as a fascinating character, offering interesting stories and insights from his navy training at the beginning of each chapter. Throughout the rest of the chapter, however, he’s a confusing character—and it’s hard to get a grasp on who he is and what motivates him. For much of the book, he’s absolutely insubordinate. If someone asks him to do something, he’ll do exactly the opposite. He won’t go by the book, and he’s pretty sure that anyone who does is an idiot. So he doesn’t waste a lot of time talking to the idiots; he just does his own thing, no matter what the consequences may be. That makes him a pretty frustrating character to begin with—but he’s even more frustrating when, at one point late in the book, he decides to follow an order, and he gets upset when his colleague wants to go off on her own.

And, finally, to add insult to injury, the book’s conclusion is maddening. After hundreds of pages of various villains and their evil plots, the end is disappointingly anti-climactic. The connections don’t really work, the reasoning doesn’t really make sense, and the story just ends, leaving readers to guess what happens.

To Grant’s credit, Even has the elements of a riveting thriller—and it would have been just that if he’d kept the story simple and the character consistent. Had it been three carefully crafted, well-developed novels, I probably would have enjoyed them. Instead, he tried to cover too much ground in his first novel, and he ended up smashing three stories together into one confusing and over-complicated read.

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