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Promise Falls #3

The Twenty-Three

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From New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Linwood Barclay comes the jaw-dropping finale of the Promise Falls Trilogy.

It’s May 23, and small town Promise Falls finds itself in the midst of a full-blown catastrophe with dozens dead from a flu-like virus. Investigator Cal Weaver quickly zeros in on mass poisoning and a tainted water supply.

Meanwhile, a college student has been murdered, and Detective Barry Duckworth recognizes a killer’s handiwork from the unsolved homicides of two women in town. Suddenly, the strange events from the last month start to add up….Bloody mannequins in car “23” of an abandoned Ferris wheel…a fiery, out-of-control bus with “23” on the back…“23” on the hoodie of a man accused of assault.

The motive for hurting the people of this town points to the number 23—and working out why will bring Duckworth closer to death than ever before.

451 pages, Hardcover

First published September 22, 2016

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About the author

Linwood Barclay

98 books6,001 followers
Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for adults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.
Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. His two novels for children – Chase and Escape – star a computer-enhanced dog named Chipper who’s on the run from the evil organization that turned him into a super-pup.
Barclay’s 2011 thriller, The Accident, has been turned into the six-part television series L’Accident in France, and he adapted his novel Never Saw it Coming for the movie, directed by Gail Harvey and starring Eric Roberts and Emily Hampshire. Several of his other books either have been, or still are, in development for TV and film.
After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.
He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.
In 2004, he launched his mystery series about an anxiety-ridden, know-it-all, pain-in-the-butt father by the name of Zack Walker. Bad Move, the first book, was followed by three more Zack Walker thrillers: Bad Guys, Lone Wolf, and Stone Rain. (The last two were published in the UK under the titles Bad Luck and Bad News.)
His first standalone thriller, No Time for Goodbye, was published in 2007 to critical acclaim and great international success. The following year, it was a Richard and Judy Summer Read selection in the UK, and did seven straight weeks at #1 on the UK bestseller list, and finished 2008 as the top selling novel of the year there. The book has since been sold around the world and been translated into nearly thirty languages.
Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two grown children, Spencer and Paige.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 967 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,714 reviews25k followers
September 22, 2016
This is the explosive finale to the Promise Falls trilogy set in New York State. It is told from multiple points of view and all past events have been leading to this. Promise Falls and its residents are about to experience a catastrophic fallout from previous events that results in the deaths of hundreds amidst which are a number of murders. It all begins on the Saturday of the Memorial weekend, and people are suffering from extreme nausea, vomiting and other flu like symptoms. Many are dying and the emergency services are overwhelmed, they just cannot cope.

Trying to find out exactly what is happening is Detective Barry Duckworth and Angus Carlson. With so many unable to access medical help and a hungry media, the police investigation is operating under heavy stress. Slowly it begins to become clear that the water supply has been tampered with and compromised. It has been poisoned with sodium azide. Could it be terrorists? Who has a motive for such a heinous crime? Amidst all this, George Lyedecker is missing and at Thackeray College, a female student, Lorraine Plummer has been gruesomely murdered in exactly the same manner as the murders of Olivia Fisher and Rosemary Gaynor. This worries Duckworth as it seems previous suspects could not have committed Lorraine's killing. Who could it possibly be? The story is packed with a variety of twists. It emerges there are connections with the murders and the water poisoning. And it all revolves around the twenty-three.

Short chapters heighten the sense of tension and suspense right up to the final reveals. This is such a well written novel and the plotting is impressive. You get a real feel for the mayhem and the pressure which the police and the emergency services are operating in. Part of that is achieved with the myriad of characters, from a politically ambitious mayoral candidate, Randy, and Cal Weaver, a PI who has lost everything, yet trying to protect a little girl, Crystal, when her mother dies. Wonderful book. Highly recommended. Thanks to Orion for an ARC.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79.1k followers
February 11, 2018
:( I know I'll be in the minority, and I'm a huge Linwood Barclay fan, so I hate to give this a less than glowing review, but I can't overlook the many issues I had with this one. This trilogy required a great deal of time and energy to have as much fluff and filler as it did and for it to end how it was left.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
383 reviews1,768 followers
March 28, 2017
I really do love this trilogy. and this is the third book in the Promise Falls Trilogy. I was surprised that there actually is a fourth book that comes out this November.
I really love this author too. I suggest that when you start to read this trilogy that you binge read it because if you don't I really think it would be hard to follow.

More mass mayhem awaits Barclay fans in the final installment of his Promise Falls trilogy, in which bodies stack up “in the morgue like firewood before the winter."

Upstate New York detective Barry Duckworth already has his hands full dealing with the sex crimes, campus murders, and drive-in disaster of Barclay's previous novel, Far from True. The new book opens with an elaborate cross-section of town residents getting violently sick and falling over in critical condition. In one of the worst disasters in New York history, more than 100 people die. The immediate thought is that someone tainted the town water supply. Could it have been the loathsome former mayor Randall Finley, who operates a water bottling company? But water isn't the only thing killing people on this Memorial Day weekend. A knife-wielding criminal is on the loose, targeting women. With so many more people losing their spouses, their boyfriends and girlfriends, their parents and grandparents, you wonder how Promise Falls can possibly survive—though as orphaned 11-year-old Crystal says to DI Cal Weaver, aware of the murder charges that had been hanging over her mother before she died of the tainted water, "I guess there's one good thing....My mom won't ever have to go to jail. But there are so many characters, most of them thinly drawn, that it's difficult to keep up with who's who and even who killed whom. (It's best to read the series from the beginning.)
The motive for harming the people of Promise Falls points to the number 23—and working out why will bring Duckworth closer to death than he’s ever been before…
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,538 reviews9,965 followers
September 26, 2016

I haven't read the first two books in this trilogy, but it didn't seem to bother this book as a stand alone. There were references and I would like to read the first two so I can know what all went on, but I was fine with what was going on here.

I thought the blurb sounded really good but I misread it a little bit and some of it was from the first two books, so once again, I need to go back to those books.

All of these people drink the water, in coffee, plain, etc and many die before they can get help from the hospital. I was thinking it was this one person doing it but it was too obvious to have been them and of course it was someone else. lol I can understand the person's reasoning and not understand it at the same time. I can't tell you why because that would be a spoiler.

There are some murders that lead back to other murders. Well, okay so everything leads back to things that happened in the past.

There was also an attack on a man and his shop because he is different so he is being blamed as a terrorist killing everyone. I mean, I don't trust a lot of people, but the stuff that was going on in this book didn't seem like no terrorist to me.

Overall I liked the book, but maybe I would like it better if I know the back stories. I'm happy for all of those that love it though :-)

*I would like to thank First To Read for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,395 reviews4,905 followers
December 2, 2021

In this third book in the 'Promise Falls' trilogy, the water in Promise Falls gets poisoned, which causes havoc in the town. The books in the series can be read as standalones but it's best to read them in order for a full understanding of the story arc and the characters.

If you haven't read the first two books this review might contain some (minor) spoilers.


The upstate New York town of Promise Falls has no end of troubles. An unknown perpetrator has been orchestrating all kinds of havoc related to the number 23, including: hanging 23 dead squirrels on a fence;

giving three mannequins a ride in car 23 of a defunct Ferris wheel;

sending a burning #23 bus careening down the street;

blowing up the screen of a drive-in theater at 23:23 (military time); and more.

On top of that, several women in Promise Falls have been killed in a ritualistic fashion - possibly by a serial killer. Unfortunately there's worse to come. On Saturday, May 23 - at the start of the Memorial Day weekend - hundreds of people in Promise Falls become violently ill.

The victims become weak and disoriented; vomit profusely; become hypotensive (low blood pressure); and in many cases die.

Detective Barry Duckworth - a capable cop - traces the cause of the outbreak to the town's water supply, which has been poisoned.

As sick and dead people pile up Detective Duckworth and his newly promoted assistant, Detective Angus Carlson.....

…..have their hands full - dealing with victims, talking to family members, interviewing witnesses, etc. To add to the mayhem, a teenage boy is missing and a college girl has been stabbed to death - possibly by the serial killer.

So Detective Duckworth is very busy - investigating the 'number 23' crimes; looking into the water debacle; and trying to solve the 'murdered women' cases. To add to the sleuth's troubles, his wife and doctor are trying to get him to go on a diet....but it's hard to give up those morning donuts.

Many colorful characters from the first 2/3 of the trilogy are on hand, such as: Randy Finley - the sleazy former mayor of Promise Falls who'd do anything to get re-elected;

private investigator Cal Weaver - who has a moral conundrum about outing a murderer;

Crystal - a smart autistic 11-year-old girl;

Samantha (Sam) Worthington - a laundromat manager whose in-laws tried to snatch her son and have her killed;

David Harwood - a former journalist who's romantically involved with Sam and (reluctantly) works for Randy's mayoral campaign;

Don - David's father who has a guilty secret;

and Marla - David's cousin who recently acquired a baby son (it's a long story).

For me "The Twenty-Three" is just okay. It's a workmanlike conclusion to the trilogy but lacks a certain level of excitement. Moreover, the solutions to the mysteries feel a bit anti-climactic.

One thing I do like about the trilogy is the author's technique of resolving dangerous situations quickly. If a character gets in trouble it's over pretty fast....for better or worse. I like this much better than hostages being locked in a basement for months.....or other plot devices of that nature.

Overall, the three books of the trilogy tell an engaging story. Recommended to mystery fans

(Note: there are some minor unresolved issues at the end of book three, which apparently will be resolved in a future volume. This is cheating, since this is a trilogy.....not a quadrilogy. Can anyone say $$$ ?)

You can follow my reviews at http://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Gary.
2,674 reviews377 followers
October 2, 2016
This is the 3rd book in the 'Promise Falls Trilogy' by author Linwood Barclay.
I have read the previous books in this series and although I think it certainly helps make sense of everything I don't consider it essential and can be read as a stand alone.
In this 3rd instalment hundreds of people are taken to hospital suffering from flu like symptoms and many have died. It's the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd, and the small town of Promise Falls, New York, is in a state of panic. Investigators suspicions quickly focus on the water supply, but who is responsible. Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is faced with another problem when a college student is found murdered, and it appears to be the same killer as in the unsolved homicides of two other women in town.

This is a fast moving thriller that is definitely a page turner and will keep you guessing and trying to unravel the clues and red herrings. Questions are answered from previous novels in this series and everything starts to make sense. The story is cleverly constructed and explained expertly and Linwood Barclay shows his skills off in this climax to this series.
I love Linwood Barclay's books and they are always entertaining and exquisitely written giving the reader a thrilling experience. Certainly one of my favourite authors.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Berkley Publishing Group for supplying me with a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest review.
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews146 followers
February 6, 2017
I just reviewed my reviews for the first two books of this trilogy, and I could basically say the same things for this book. Linwood Barclay has done an exceptional job of refreshing my memory of happenings from the first two books.

I highly recommend reading this trilogy from the beginning. I would even suggest binge reading these three books. Once again, there is a LOT of activity in Promise Falls! I suspect Mr. Barclay had a floor-to-ceiling flow chart on his wall for several years. If you haven't read the first two books, you might be totally confused!

All the same characters are in this book, doing what they do. Barry Duckworth, Cal Weaver, and David Harwood are all scrambling with their own storylines, but they also mix into the major story. Randall Finley does have a couple of redeeming qualities. And I still love little Chrystal!

Some reviews I've read mention plot holes in this book. I looked at each character and the story surrounding them, and I believe everything was concluded satisfactorily. Maybe not in as much detail as some readers might want, but I was happy to make inferences.

Mr. Barclay mentions in one of his newsletters that another book is coming that will be set in Promise Falls with Barry and Cal, but it will not be part of this trilogy. I'm looking forward to it.
Profile Image for Jackie Ullerich.
Author 6 books128 followers
June 22, 2017
I deeply appreciated Linwood's vivid, detailed writing. Small town politics, sex, murder. The dialogue made these characters come to life. There are a lot of them, so I would highly recommend that you read this series one book after another so that you can keep track of them. You will get information about each characters' personal lives. One of this series' strengths is how Linwood delves into the backgrounds of even minor characters—not to the same extent as the main characters, so it doesn't overwhelm the reader, but it does make a difference.

The number 23 comes up throughout the entire series and readers will be intrigued.

Also, the ending!!! I loved it. It had an unexpected conclusion. And who doesn't appreciate that?

If you love thrillers, Linwood Barclay is an author not to miss!
Profile Image for Jan.
424 reviews255 followers
November 21, 2016
3.5 stars

A really good ending to the Promise Falls Trilogy.

I rated the first 2 books a solid 4 stars each. While the series ending did provide satisfactory closure, I rated this one lower because about a quarter of the way through, I realized I was over all the cray cray going on in this small messed up town.

With so many characters and sub plots, it took me awhile to remember who was who and who did what. I think this took some of the fun out of this long awaited finale. I think I would have enjoyed it better had the entire story been told in one book, maybe 2 max.

The stand out? The last 50 pages…they are everything I was hoping for.
Barclay's ability to take all the sub plots and weave them seamlessly together to answer any question you might have had is perfection!

If you haven't started the series yet, I think I would recommend binge reading them for a more smooth and entertaining read.

ARC through NetGalley

Profile Image for Jody McGrath.
377 reviews52 followers
October 18, 2016
As if things haven't been crazy enough in Promise Falls, the crazy is about to racked up to extreme. Somehow the town's water supply has been poisoned, killing hundreds and making hundreds more sick. On top of that another body is found with a smile cut abdomen, just like the others. With city resources stretched to their limits, police are in a hurry to figure out the water supply, but one detective starts putting the clues together. What does 23 mean? Are the serial killings and the rest of everything related? How many killers are in Promise Falls?

Okay so I have two confessions to make. Confession #1: I did not read the first two books in this trilogy. I deeply regret this now. Confession #2: I have never read a book by Linwood Barclay before this one. That I will be rectifying very soon. This book was fantastic. It was fast pace, action right from the beginning. The POV changed frequently, but I actually liked that in this story. Often I hate POV changes. I loved Barclay's writing style. It was gritty and sophisticated at the same time. His characters leapt off the pages, becoming real people that you know in your community. I cannot wait to read another of his books.

Even though I did not read the first two books, I was able to figure out part of the conclusion. The twists though were mind boggling. The psychological warping of the story made it riveting. I cannot really say any more than this, due to spoilers. I think everything in the book could be a spoiler. If you are a Barclay fan, you need to read this book. If you have not read a Barclay book before, you need to start. If you don't like Barclay, what is wrong with you? Just kidding. A+ book!

*I voluntarily read an Advance Readers Copy of this book and have given an honest review *
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,052 reviews2,105 followers
September 14, 2016
Wow Mr Barclay - you have me hooked!

The Promise Falls Trilogy is an exceptional read, the weak link being the middle book, Far from True, where there was quite a bit more back story than was required.

I couldn't put The Twenty-Three down. I literally walked around with it in front of my face. Mr Barclay writes twisted plots. I gave up trying to second guess him in the end and just enjoyed the read. Every time I thought I knew where he was heading, he would do an about face and throw another red herring at me.

I loved the characters - even the unlikable ones. I hope there is more to come for these characters. There are still questions that need to be answered.....

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for a digital ARC of The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Monnie.
1,436 reviews772 followers
October 12, 2016
Wow! And when I add it to the other two books in the Promise Falls Trilogy, it's wow, Wow and WOW!

The title refers to the number 23, the number of a Ferris wheel car in which bloody mannequins were found, and on the back of a fiery bus (see Far From True, the first in the trilogy, and Broken Promise, the second. In this one, all hell breaks loose on May 23, when hundreds of Promise Falls residents are becoming violently ill - many dying - suspected to be a result of something nasty in the water. Test results are affirmative - someone who knew what he or she was doing definitely poisoned the city's water supply. A former mayor who's running for the office again owns a bottled water company and immediately offers free bottles to the residents (as long as someone from the media is present), making a couple of his opponents - including former journalist David Harwood, who now works for the ex-mayor - suspect he might have had a hand in the disaster.

But that's not all that's going down. A female student at Thackeray College is found murdered in a pattern similar to that of two other women (see previous books). Is there a serial killer in their midst? Could the murders somehow be related to the poisoned water? That's an answer Detective Barry Duckworth (and concerned readers) want to know. He's been working on solving the first two murders since Book One, and the latest prompts him to step up the investigation before someone else bites the dust.

As the end of this book approached, most of the loose ends were tied and cliffhangers resolved from the first two books. Great, I said, nodding my head vigorously - and then in the final couple of chapters came big surprise after big surprise, making my mouth drop as well. The ending left a bit of the future of Promise Falls and at least one major character to the imagination, but since this is the third book in the trilogy, I made an educated guess that there won't be any more and came to my own conclusions.

A word to the wise on that score: I advise (make that strongly advise) reading all three books in order - and timewise, as close together as possible. I read the first two in succession, and when I was offered an advance copy in exchange for an honest review by the author and publisher (via NetGalley), I was elated. But as soon as I started it, I realized I'd forgotten a ton in the nearly nine months between it and the second one. Granted, I'm old and have to consult my computer to be sure what day it is, but I really struggled to remember what happened and who did it from the other two books even though the author does a pretty good job of providing background.

Bottom line? This is a don't-miss trilogy that, IMHO, ranks right up there with Stephen King's Bill Hodges Trilogy that got rolling with Mr. Mercedes back in 2014.
Profile Image for Jonetta.
2,243 reviews969 followers
November 3, 2019
The mystery of all the strange events in Promise Falls involving the number 23 culminates in this story...the 23 bloody mannequins discovered in the abandoned Ferris wheel, the out-of-control bus #23, the 23 dead squirrels, etc. It’s the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend, May 23, and the worst of all these phenomena occurs. Both Detective Barry Duckworth and private investigator Cal Weaver know the number has some significance and think they’ve figured it out. Now all they have to do is find the perpetrator. Meanwhile, they’re coming closer to determining who might have killed Olivia Fisher and Rosemary Gaynor and whether their deaths are some how tied to number 23.

I looked forward to listening to what was originally planned to be the final book in this trilogy (a fourth book was later added) and I got my anticipated payoff. As with a typical Barclay story, there’s a lot going on but all are tied together, some cleanly & distinctly, others more obscure. It was über interesting to try to assemble the clues and keep ahead of the investigation. I did okay but in the end, still got surprised. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and am glad a fourth book was added because a couple of little dangling threads deserve an answer.

I’m also glad I chose to listen to the series as the narrators were exceptionally good, especially Brian O’Neill who handled everyone but Barry Duckworth. His style lends itself to this kind of story where he doesn’t reach for the dramatic because it’s not needed. I’m a big fan of the author and this met all my expectations. On to the last book in the series and some earlier ones that have loose character connections. And, oh! This series is best served up in order...trust me.

(Thanks to Recorded Books for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,231 reviews2,731 followers
July 30, 2018
The holiday weekend started with a bang! Emergency services were being called until they weren’t answering – the emergency department at the hospital was overrun with sick and dying people. What was happening? Why were the residents of Promise Falls becoming sick and dying where they stood?

Detective Barry Duckworth was already run off his feet investigating murders and explosions in his town – now with this latest horror, the department couldn’t work out what was happening – or why? Calling in help from nearby towns was imperative as the small police department, and crime scene investigators, plus forensics, were in over their heads. Duckworth still had his suspicions about the number twenty-three, wondering if any of these latest events tied into that. Was it some sort of macabre message for the town? But why?

The Twenty Three is the final in the Promise Falls Trilogy by Linwood Barclay, and as such, I was shocked by the abrupt ending with a few loose ends still floating around. I actually went back a couple of pages to see if I’d missed anything, but no. It was a brilliant novel, fast-paced and intense. I flew through the 451 pages in a matter of hours! Plenty of twists, lots of action and until the final reveal, I had no idea! Highly recommended – but definitely in order!

With a post script to that comment, as it says on the front cover of my copy “The final book in the Promise Falls Trilogy” – I just had a look and there is another to follow! Parting Shot is Promise Falls #4 – so I’ll be reading that one sooner rather than later! Thank goodness for that!
Profile Image for Matt.
3,821 reviews12.9k followers
September 20, 2016
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Linwood Barclay, and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

In the finale of his Promise Falls trilogy, Barclay ties everything together while impressing the reader with a fast-paced novel that is sure to leave as many questions lingering as it supplies answers. Still smarting from the recent drive-in bombing, Promise Falls must face another life-altering event. The water supply appears to be causing scores of residents to become ill, some showing flu-like symptoms while others die from the severity of their exposure. As the hospitals fill up, mayoral candidate and local businessman, Randall Finley, is on hand to provide bottled water as he shows his compassionate side, while trying to win over the electorate and regain his place as mayor. However, the authorities remain baffled by events, especially Detective Barry Duckworth, who traces the contamination back to the water treatment facility. Even after he learns what's gone into the water supply, Duckworth is no closer to learning who might be responsible. Across town, on the campus of Thackeray College, a student in the middle of intercession classes is found murdered in her dorm room. What makes this all the more disturbing is that her body is found with the same wounds as two other Promise Falls women over the past few years. These women played a prominent role in the community (as well as in the past Barclay novels) and with the killer still on the loose, Duckworth and the rest of the limited police force must juggle this case as the city teeters on the edge. The further Duckworth probes, the stronger the connection to past events that have baffled the authorities, all tied to the number twenty-three. Two cases, hundreds of bodies, and a city on the verge of collapse. Barclay has laid the groundwork for an explosive final novel in this series and he lives up to all expectations. A stellar piece of work that forces the reader to remain attentive to the final sentence.

Barclay's writing abilities have never been in doubt, but this collection, three novels and one short story, proves to be some of his best work in years. Parachuting the reader into small-town New York State is one thing, but his ability to present a powerful set of storylines that all come together so effortlessly makes this reading experience one that surpasses many novels on the market together. While some authors are able to sustain great characters throughout a series, Barclay not only offers up a collection of unique and interesting individuals to push the story along, but utilises them all in some form or another. The reader will rarely come across a character whose importance is not highlighted at some point in the series. While the novels have been spaced out over time to allow the author and publisher to develop them for their timed release, the narrative pulls past events into the present, giving the reader a brief recollection of what has happened to keep them from becoming too lost. Additionally, that the three novels take place in the span of a short period of time makes the intricate nature of the narrative all the more powerful. Barclay is able to literally pick up where the previous story left off and keeps the reader as enthralled as if they had put down one book to begin the next. This is surely the sign of a talented wordsmith and one who has honed his craft over many years. Few readers will leave this series feeling let down or underwhelmed. Quite the opposite, as they are sure to beg for more, even though it's quite apparent all good things must come to an end.

Kudos, Mr. Barclay for this wonderful novel and the larger trilogy. I am highly impressed with this and cannot wait to read more of what you have to offer.

Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
Profile Image for Pat.
2,310 reviews430 followers
February 17, 2017
Phew that was pretty full on. This instalment starts with a bang. People in Promise Falls are dropping like flies, many are dying. Is it something in the water or a deadly airborne virus?

Sheriff (I think) Duckworth is still obsessed by the number 23 and in solving what is now three similar murders. The sex club members are being killed off. Suspects for everything (remember the drive in bombing?) are being identified and discarded and re-considered. And as many more townsfolk die of the mysterious ailment, everyone is running around frantically.

It was just nuts. I loved it. Over the three books that was one complicated plot. Loved it. Great characters, some good, some bad but most very grey - so you never really knew what was going on. Did I mention how much I loved it? I wish there were more books to follow but I don't think Promise Falls can take any more.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,512 reviews857 followers
January 1, 2019
A good finish to the trilogy! I can’t remember from the previous books, but this time I found Duckworth’s 1st person narrative quite annoying. This wasn’t one that would have been possible to solve as there were multiple explanations going on, which can be pretty annoying if you spend the whole book looking for the one ‘culprit’.
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,685 reviews377 followers
November 20, 2017
International bestselling author, Linwood Barclay takes readers back to the beginning Broken Promise Promise Falls Trilogy, #1 (2015).

"Best Cliffhanger Mystery Thriller Suspense Series," landing on my Top 30 Books of 2015—with highly anticipated THE TWENTY-THREE a spine-chilling thriller conclusion Promise Falls Trilogy #3. (or is it)? Everything comes full circle.

Promise Falls is an explosive series about the disturbing evil secrets of a quiet yet mysterious small town (turns out, not so quiet). Love the cover!

Set in a fictional upstate New York small town outside of Albany, called Promise Falls—a town slowly dying, with a number of the businesses closing, or recently closed, and the younger generation, forced to move on to larger cities with better opportunities.

Presently murder, and a whole lot more. A serial killer is targeting their town.

A multi-layered plot, with an array of intriguing and well-developed characters, and a town of scandalous secrets, lies, conspiracy, murder, possibly revenge, and a list of crimes and the mysterious number, "twenty-three".

There is also a backstory of Olivia Fisher, (#1) a young woman with a bright future, killed years ago in a brutal murder. Her mother died of cancer recently, and the dad remaining - still grieving, and left to control the fiancé, who has turned into a raging alcoholic.

The story explodes answering all the questions from the first book.

Final Assignment (Promise Falls Trilogy, #1.5) 2016
Far From True (Promise Falls Trilogy, #2) 2016

How do the dots connect? Who has a motive for harming the people of Promise Falls?" Who is Mr. Twenty-Three?

Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and we all know what happens with the number 23. It spells HORROR for Promise Falls. The motive for harming the people points to the number 23.

It had all started with the horrific murder of Rosemary Gaynor. However, it really went back to the original: Olivia Fisher’s death- the first. Then most recently Lorraine Plummer. What do college students and women being murdered have to do with the other happenings? A serial killer is on the loose once again with his signature mark.

And then there were some strange goings-on around town. Everything from dead squirrels, and a Ferris wheel coming to life all on its own to a college predator and a flaming bus. As if all that weren’t enough, the bombed drive-in, and now someone was poisoning the water.

People are dying and even the lines at 911 were busy. Someone is poisoning the town’s water supply and possibly a multiple murderer—a serial killer. One in the same, or multiple people with different agendas?

What is the missing link? Promise Falls was already on the edge about a possible terrorist attack after the drive-in. However now things were getting out of hand. The town’s water supply is being tainted. A fuel spill, chemicals, or was someone intentionally seeking to harm?

Everyone was drinking the tap water and getting sick and dying. Causing nausea, headache, vomiting, a severe drop in blood pressure. To seizure, cardiorespiratory arrest, and Hypo-tension. By the time it is over, the number of dead is over two hundred, including those fatalities for the elderly, who died before they could even get them to the hospital.

Who wants revenge?

In the meantime, Sam Worthington and Carl were missing. David Hartwell has to warn them about the water. Randall Finley, running for mayor is, of course, trying to push his bottled water to gain attention for his campaign while making more enemies and causing suspicions.

Who had a working knowledge of the town’s infrastructure?

Victims of crime the ones you do not hear about. What about relatives of perpetrators? The pain. Lives getting turned upside down and they are not responsible but get blamed. Shunned. How can they move on and start over? Who has a tormented past? A history of psychological abuse? Motive? Madness. Payback? An agenda. . .

Detective Barry Duckworth is front and center with #3. (Love him) His detective work is brilliant; however, he may be in danger as he gets closer to the truth. Will he find the killer of the homicides and connect the dots, before it is too late, or will he die, trying?

The sins of the past and present collide.

With an array of suspects, and clues --is there more than one killer, and how are they linked together? With more twists and turns than you can image, Barclay keeps readers glued to the pages of yet another riveting thriller. A mix of psychological, crime, cop procedures, forensics, mystery, suspense, wit, and humor----all rolled into one action-packed thriller!

Only Barclay, can pull out a shocker at 98% which is mind-blowing! One of my favorite authors. Just when you think, all the pieces of the puzzle are solved----BAM! Here comes another.

Read them all! For fans of Michael Robotham, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Unger, Lisa Gardner, and John Hart -this spine-chilling series is award-winning and "movie worthy!"

Interview with the Author.

Let's see what Janet Evanovich can do for the "number 23" and favorite sleuth, Stephanie Plum in Turbo Twenty-Three (Nov 15) "a magical number" for November.

Highly recommend Parting Shot (2017). Just finished - the best yet!

A special thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews797 followers
November 1, 2016
Finally! That's how I felt when I started to read this book. The last book had a terrible cliffhanger and I've been waiting months to get to continue with the story. So, did this book live up to my expectations? Yes, and no. Don't take me wrong, it's a fantastic book, a page-turner. I loved that everything was starting to come together. However, not everything felt completely resolved, and right now I checked to see so it really is a trilogy and that no more books are planned in the series because, if there were more books would the ending have felt more understandable. But, no, this is apparently the last one.

At least the identity of the serial killer is finally revealed and that was a bit of surprise. Also, the truth about the number 23 is revealed, a little less of a surprise there. A bit of surprise for me was the sympathy I felt for ex-mayor Randy Finley in this book. He has never really been a nice character, but behind all that sleaze, well he did have a soft spot.

The Twenty-Three was a good book, despite leaving some people's fate hanging in balance. I would love to know what happens next so I really hope that Linwood Barcley will write more about Promise Falls. Perhaps a new trilogy?

I want to thank Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for jennyliest.
201 reviews294 followers
June 10, 2019
Ich kann dem Abschluss der Trilogie leider nur zwei Sterne geben, weil es gegen Ende so langweilig wurde, dass ich die letzten Seiten nur noch überflogen habe. Das Thema der Wasserverunreinigung fand ich super spannend – auch die Aufklärung der Fälle aus den ersten zwei Teilen hat mich interessiert, jedoch fand ich die Umsetzung echt lahm. Es hat sich gezogen & es wirkte zu konstruiert und offensichtlich.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,796 reviews487 followers
October 31, 2016
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I enjoyed this final installment in the Promise Falls trilogy. I was eager to finally get some answers when I picked up this book and I feel like I got them for the most part. Like the other two books in the trilogy, this novel did have its own focus but there was a lot of things that needed to be wrapped up from the previous books in the series. This was a really fast paced and exciting story.

This book starts with a bang. People in Promise Falls are getting sick. Really sick. Many people are even dying. The town is trying to keep up and figure out what is going on but they are completely overwhelmed. In addition to the sickness, there is a new murder that needs to be solved and they are still trying to figure out previous unsolved murders.

All of the great characters are back from the previous book and they are all working to find out what is going on in this town. Duckworth has his hands full. Seriously, how is he in charge of every problem in this city? I liked Duckworth but realistically I don't think he could have possibly kept up with as much as he did. Cal and David are both dealing with issues that are a little closer to home for them.

I was pretty satisfied by how the book and trilogy wrapped up. There were a few surprises in the end but nothing that didn't make sense in the story. This trilogy really should be read in order and in quick succession if at all possible. Each book left so many unanswered questions that finally are addressed in this book. I think anyone trying to read this book as a stand alone novel will miss out on the larger story and will probably be somewhat unsatisfied.

I would recommend this book and trilogy and book to fans of mystery thrillers. This is a smartly plotted mystery that should appeal to a large number of readers. I have read and enjoyed Linwood Barclay's work many times in the past and I look forward to reading more in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
Pretty exciting. It was nice to finally get some resolution for everything that has been happening in Promise Falls.
Profile Image for CL.
646 reviews29 followers
December 27, 2016
People are all going to the hospital with flu like symptoms and many have died. The poisoning is traced to the water supply but who would do such a thing. Then there is a murder and it shows signs of being related to others murders that have occurred in town. Clues keep turning up, all with the number “23”. Can Det Barry Duckworth solve these crimes. Great read. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
November 7, 2016
This is the final book in the Promise Falls trilogy and it starts off with a bang. People start dying everywhere. They get violently ill, vomit and die. As the hospital fills beyond capacity and all service personnel are called in, people wander dazed and confused. What is going on?

Barclay certainly knows how to write a thriller. It keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the book just as the other two volumes did. This has been an amazing series keeping you hooked to the story and what the mysterious "23" means. For people just starting, I would recommend reading the books pretty closely to each other. My memory was a little rusty but it didn't take long to catch up.

All the story lines are tied up from the young women's deaths, to the drive-in explosion, to the deaths of the squirrels to the odd incident of the ferris wheel. Personal story lines are completed, not all satisfactorily, but that's the way real life is. It doesn't always turn out the way you want and expect.

I think the series has done a good job keeping multiple story lines going and interesting. It's a good thriller that I can easily recommend.
Profile Image for Ammar.
451 reviews215 followers
September 3, 2018
That was a damp ending eh

The whole third book was just slightly over imaginative

I liked the first two books but Linwood in the conclusion of the trilogy just didn’t deliver in my opinion
March 13, 2017

An absolutely grandstanding, high octane third and final instalment in the Promise Falls trilogy delivers maximum bang for your buck and will leave readers unwilling to see the back of this up against it town located in upstate New York. The sensational conclusion sees the long-game plotting prowess of Linwood Barclay culminate in a pulsating finale which is the most lethal and potent visit yet to Promise Falls. The Twenty-Three calls for readers to don hazmat suits over the course of an action packed Memorial Day weekend in the lives of the unlucky folk of Promise Falls. Cop of twenty-years, Detective Barry Duckworth, a man not in the best shape of his life and comfortably overweight already has an unenviable workload currently investigating two murders characterised by the signature style of a serial perpetrator and a number of increasingly macabre crimes, all linked by the number twenty-three. Having steadily escalated in seriousness, what could have started off as pranks have now become deadly and an explosion at the final night of a Constellation Drive-in is the latest incident to wreak havoc in the town. All linked to the number of twenty-three, strung up dead squirrels and an impromptu spin of the Ferris wheel at the mothballed theme park were just the start, but a burning bus through the town centre and a series of sexual assaults at the local college campus have brought a sinister reality. Former disgraced mayor and current candidate for a comeback, Randall Finley is aiming to make political capital from the misfortunes of the town, all with his reluctant employee David Harwood trailing in his wake.

The Saturday morning of the Memorial Falls weekend sees all hell breaking loose as a contamination in the towns water supply sees hospital's overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients falling by the wayside. Characterised by low blood pressure, blurred vision, continuous vomiting and dizziness the residents are dropping like flies but the discovery that intentional poisoning is the most likely cause sees Homeland security called in. Detective Barry Duckworth runs himself ragged between emergencies and a third return visit from a serial killer with a signature 'smile' wound marking their victims and leaves him in a race against time to identify a predator amongst the townspeople. Continuing the story of grieving PI Cal Weaver, autistic eleven-year-old Crystal with her idiosyncrasies, and the discovery that there is another side to mouthpiece Randall Finley bring a touching sincerity to proceedings.

Promise Falls and its much depleted cast have brought non-stop action and have real potential for a return visit. As a reader who has derived such pleasure from the trials and tribulations since former journalist David Harwood returned to his home town I feel that I have unfinished business with this town and Barclay leaves his readers hanging with several questions unresolved.. Linwood Barclay has managed to juggle continuous storylines and parallel events in the lives of his central cast alongside one another and short, sharp punchy chapters keep readers fixated. Admittedly the body count in the third novel is over and above all likely proportions but the delights of overblown catastrophes and distinctive characters make this thriller a winner! Essential reading for readers of the two previous instalments, the joy of this series is the opportunities to revisit a continuing cast and a satisfying conclusion to several long running mysteries. Potential to expand this series to a quartet hangs in the air as the action comes to a halt and feeling like a Promise Falls veteran myself, I am ready and waiting! A four-star instalment of a trilogy that has provided five-star action and entertainment.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
4,567 reviews475 followers
March 10, 2020
The Twenty-Three is the third book in Linwood Barclay’s Promise Falls series, and it’s my favourite of the three. Although I’m a big fan of Linwood Barclay, I’m going to be honest and say this series has disappointed me. It’s not my favourite, but I remained curious to see how it played out.

With The Twenty-Three we have a three-point-five-star rating. At first, I thought it would be another book that I wasn’t crazy about. Once things started to move, I found myself hooked. Towards the end, however, I found myself disappointed again. I enjoyed it the most out of the three books, but I still wanted more.

A lot has happened across the series, and I expected big things from this one. There were many big reveals and some shocks, but for the biggest mysteries of the series I was disappointed. I had worked out too many of the elements early in the series, which left me disappointed when they were revealed in the manner they were. Add in the fact so many things were left open and never quite explained, and I’ll only be reading book four in the hope of seeing how certain elements come together.

All in all, The Twenty-Three was a great addition to the series, but it’s not enough to make this series a favourite.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,902 reviews534 followers
October 17, 2016
This is the third book in the Promise Falls series and unfortunately I didn't read the first two books. There were too many open threads from the prior books for The Twenty-Three to work as a standalone. There were a lot of characters and if I'd had any prior knowledge about them I might've found them more interesting, but without that knowledge I found it all very confusing. It just seemed like everyone in Promise Falls had had something bad happen to them in the first two books. I got a third of the way through this book and gave up. I didn't care enough to find out who poisoned the water. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Marty Fried.
1,025 reviews94 followers
March 2, 2017
Great series, although the solution seemed to kind of come out of left field, and was totally unpredictable. But I guess that's OK. I was a little disappointed that at least one incident was left hanging so we don't know what happens, but perhaps there will be another book in the trilogy - I hope so.

It was a nice escape from the hectic city life to immerse myself in the small town of Promise Falls for a while.
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