The Herd, by Andrea Bartz

9 Apr
the herd andrea

FIVE of 5 stars

Sometimes loving or hating a book depends on what is going on in your own life at the time.

I loved this book. I loved it mostly because it completely held my attention during this crazy time in quarantine.  It’s not a perfect mystery, there are a few moments that are head scratchers or don’t make sense. That stuff usually drives me up the wall, but overall this was a twisty-turny-twisty-again story that never lets you know for sure what happened until the very end.

But it was an unintentionally bittersweet story as well. It takes place during the month of December 2019 up until New Year Eve, and how could the author have known that would be the last normal month we would ever have? If she’d set the story in April 2020 we would have been constantly distracted by the alternate reality in which we are living. For me, even more so. A friend of mine was killed in a murder-suicide on New Year’s Eve, and we found out on January 3. 2020 was forever changed from then on. And now here we all are locked in our houses away from the entire world. So in many ways, reading this book felt like it was the last story written in Before Quarantine times.

The book breaks a few of my rules, but I loved it anyway. The original crime is only a crime because people didn’t behave appropriately after an accident, and the killer confesses everything at the end. But there was just enough of an explanation for both that I accepted these. I think the main complaint I really have is that Eleanor is a complete enigma to the reader, so it’s hard to understand why she is so completely worshiped.  And there is an instance of blackmail that makes no sense because the blackmailer had much more to lose.

And yet I’m giving it 5 stars and I don’t regret it. This book held my attention, my brain was completely immersed trying to sort out everyone’s secrets, and I LOVED a lot of the writing. Solving the mystery was a twist on every other page toward the end of the book, and the epilogue was outstanding.  I mean: Outstanding.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review, and I’m so thankful I had it to read during this lockdown. Would I have given it 5 stars outside of this time? Doesn’t matter, because times are what they are, and in my opinion this was a great book: entertaining, attention holding, complicated, and well written.

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