Secrets, lies and murder struggle to boost Nancy Bush's HUSH into a climatic suspense novel. Too many characters, a lack-luster romance and a mild suspense streak unfortunately drag this novel down.
One night during a beach trip the summer before her senior year, Coby Rendell and her friends begin to reveal horrible secrets to each other. Not only are they surprised at what they've learned, but are completely shocked when another classmate accidentally falls to his death from a cliff that same night. Twelve years later, Coby must travel back to the beach that has haunted her for years to attend a birthday party for her stepmother. Already dreading the evening, she is shocked when her ex-boyfriend and investigative detective, Danner Lockwood, shows up as her sister's guest. Thinking the night couldn't get any worse, her stepmother is tragically murdered during the party.
Now Coby and Danner are on the search for the killer. Everyone is a suspect and people from Coby's past start to relive the horrors of that horrible night years ago and begin to wonder if the two deaths aren't connected. As more secrets are discovered, Coby and Danner must reveal the identity of the murderer before it's too late and this killer strikes again.
My biggest problem with the novel was the overwhelming, and I stress overwhelming, cast of characters. Ms Bush was still referring to certain characters by their first and last names after the first 100 pages and that's when I was certain it was too much. You are introduced to these characters when they were in high school, so you're trying to remember who they were dating and who they were related to. Then you quickly flash to twelve years later...now some are married and have different last names, some have children. This is roughly twenty-five to thirty people you are trying to keep track of. While the numbers may have added some intrigue to the ‘who done it?' mystery, it was simply too much to absorb.
There were also some problems with the romantic and suspense elements of this novel. Usually with any romantic suspense novel there are two ways it can go. There are those with more suspense than romance and those with more romance than suspense. HUSH didn't seem to fit in either category as both the suspenseful and the romance were pretty tame. Coby and Danner, our two romantic leads, don't really even work together on this case. Coby does one thing, Danner does another and every once in a while they meet up to talk about the case together. It was certainly not what I expected in terms of romance. You can read about Danner's inner dialogue of why he wants to give their relationship another shot, but they hardly discuss it. What they always talk about is the ongoing investigation or that night twelve years ago. Which would be perfectly understandable if this were strictly a suspense novel.
The suspense was touch and go. One chapter it would be interesting, the next it would feel repetitive. The story is set up to convince everyone that one character is the obvious choice for the murderer, but of course as a reader, you would expect it would not be the obvious choice. Ms Bush forces this character into the number one suspect position and it becomes irritating. There is no establishment built to suspect other characters. You would think that an overabundance of secondary characters would keep you intrigued trying to discover who the real killer was, but that wasn't the case. It became a little boring and uneventful since there were so many potential villains....most of whom I could not keep track of or remember their relationship to the victim.
Unfortunately, there just came a point where I began to not care about the conclusion. I stuck with this book for the longest time, because most times I did enjoy reading about the two leads. Yet eventually, the intrigue and suspense just became frustrating...as did the romance. The premise had potential, but ultimately the execution was not successful. A part of me enjoyed this novel, but another part just couldn't feel satisfied once it concluded. HUSH just misses the mark.