Network of Deceit – Tom Threadgill

Network of Deceit Tom Threadgill
Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill
Also by this author: Collision of Lies
Published by Revell on February 2, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Mystery, Suspense
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After her rescue of nearly fifty kidnapped children made international headlines, Amara Alvarez gets what she's worked for: a transfer to San Antonio's Homicide Division. Reality sets in quickly, though, as her first case, the suspicious death of a teenager at a crowded local water park, brings chaos to her personal life. As the investigation moves forward and she increases the pressure on the suspects, Amara finds herself under attack by cybercriminals. Her every move is being potentially watched online, and she's forced to resort to unconventional methods to find the killer. With few leads, she fights to keep her first murder investigation from ending up in the cold case files. Tom Threadgill is back with another riveting page-turner featuring the detective who is willing to put everything on the line to see that justice is served and lives are protected.

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill was an entertaining read, but it left much to be desired. Amara Alvarez is a new homicide detective, determined to prove herself as an investigator. When a high schooler loses his life in suspicious circumstances, Amara won’t leave it alone. The synopsis of this book caught my attention, so I was eager to read it. When reading Network of Deceit, though, I found myself skipping pages to reach the end of chapters.  I couldn’t relate well enough with Amara.  When people doubted her, I admired how she persevered and would not back down. She also pursued every deserted alley of her case, but something about her persona grated on my nerves.

Threadgill incorporated cyber into this novel; however, I thought it was too…mainstream. Too obvious. Hacking bank accounts and security cameras? Communications over video games? Infiltrating companies and infecting them with ransomware?  All things I would expect of an elementary cybercrime novel. I did like how Threadgill expanded on characters’ motivations.  The author opens up their minds to his readers. Even though the book is mostly in Amara’s view, you still understand the other characters’ personalities.

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill had a writing style I did not enjoy.  I did not need to read multiple paragraphs of Amara’s stream of consciousness.  Why spend 5 pages typing out that many words, when you could have explained it with a brief conversation–or even just a single sentence? When a chapter started with snippets of Amara’s mind, I would read the first sentence or two of paragraphs before moving onward. I felt like I missed nothing by doing so. The language, too, in these interludes was too simplistic and choppy.  It was almost like reading an elementary student’s paper: “I have three suspects. These are their names. This is why I suspect John Smith. He is mean and hates the color purple. I don’t trust people who don’t like purple.” Threadgill spent too much time on Amara’s contemplations and not enough on forming a gripping storyline.

I understand that every person has personal challenges–ones they may disclose, and others they won’t. Threadgill did a good job of portraying that with Amara. But if you’re going to present something impactful (and meaningful) to your readers, don’t leave them with questions at the end of the novel.  I know Threadgill introduced Amara Alvarez in a previous novel–Collusion of Lies, which I have not read–so I assume there may be another novel after this one.  Network of Deceit read like the middle of a series–a book whose underlying themes you can’t really understand without context of other related books.

Network of Deceit stands on its own in its overall plotline–it has a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion with the murder case.  But it failed to draw me in.  I am unsure whether I will pursue more books by this author, as Amara Alvarez’s story didn’t do it for me.