Aftermath – Terri Blackstock

Aftermath Terri Blackstock
Aftermath by Terri Blackstock
Also by this author: Aftermath, Private Justice, Shadow of Doubt, Word of Honor, Trial by Fire, Line of Duty, Smoke Screen
Published by Thomas Nelson on May 11, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
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Criminal attorney Jamie Powell will accept the consequences for defending her lifelong friend, Dustin, when he’s accused of setting the bombs that killed dozens at a local political rally. But she hasn’t seen him since he aged out of foster care, and he’s always lived on the edge. Can she still trust him?
As Jamie investigates his case and the people in his life, she realizes the facts coming to light could be devastating. Someone is setting him up . . . but proving it might destroy Dustin more than the accusation itself. Dustin overcame his childhood, but how can he overcome this?

In Aftermath by Terri Blackstock, our hero, Dustin, appears to have been framed for a crime he did not commit: setting off a bomb at a political rally that killed over twenty people. Who is the first person he calls? His childhood best friend, Jamie, who happens to be an attorney. In the three-hundred-plus pages that followed the explosion, they must figure out who actually committed the despicable act and why. Meanwhile, most everyone else believes Dustin is responsible. Terri Blackstock presents an exciting tale that will draw you in from the first page. And then it will demand your attention—even when you’re not actively reading—until you finish the final page.

Though I can’t be certain, I’m pretty sure I dreamed about Aftermath after I finished it. Being a speed-reader, I finished the novel in a day, and it was time well spent. The characters drew me in from the very first chapter, when readers meet Taylor and her two friends. They’re taking selfies and screaming as their favorite band performs onstage. Before a bomb turns the world into smoke, blood, and bodies. I’ve always heard if you don’t grab your reader’s attention within the first few pages, he/she probably won’t read the entire novel. Aftermath blew up on the second page, and it hooked me.

Twists fill Aftermath. For a romantic suspense novel, it had very little romance, which I appreciated.  The book focused on solving the crime. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat…as long as you don’t overly contemplate the plot, like I did. Before writing this review, I read a few others’ thoughts. I disagree with many, who all said the book was unpredictable.  As soon as Blackstock revealed the concert was part of a political rally, I had a vague idea how the plot would unravel. While the author surprised me with a few things, for the most part, I knew the motives of the antagonists. I knew when Blackstock introduced a particular character, that individual was somehow going to be involved. In the end, I was right.

I also had a lot of issues with Taylor, who suffers from OCD.  I like knowing characters’ ages. The beginning of the novel led me to believe she was maybe in her late teens, but later, she discusses talking to her friend’s fiancé.  Being in a sorority. So maybe early twenties instead? I didn’t know, and that bothered me. Taylor’s sister, Harper, also came across as overbearing and controlling at times versus the concerned older sister. Third, where were their parents?! If my child almost lost her life in a bombing, I’d rush to her location to ensure her well-being. At first, I thought it was because maybe their parents had died, but Harper mentions their mom and dad in a conversation.

The parents never call. Never talk to their daughter. Never seem to show any worry or care about her almost dying, besides Harper casually saying something along the lines of, “I promised Mom and Dad I’d look after you.” So are they alive? Are they dead? That really bugged me, and it’s still annoying me after finishing the book.

Overall, Aftermath by Terri Blackstock is very good. It’s no “insta-romance,” and affections don’t distract the characters from their purpose. The plot is complex and well developed in a classic Terri Blackstock style. But many elements in the novel bugged me, and they took away from my overall enjoyment. Aftermath is still thrilling and very exciting, and I will recommend it to my friends. It just isn’t the most memorable novel I’ve read this year, and nor does it stand out among them.