Before the death of his wife, Sean O'Brien makes a promise to her that he has no plans to break - until he starts building a new life in an old cabin on a remote stretch of a tropical river in the heart of Florida. It's there that he discovers an injured young woman who whispers a cryptic message into his ear. As she fights for her life, Sean makes a promise to her, but to fulfill it he'll have to end the vow he made to his dead wife, and he'll have to face a criminal mind that has a tap root into his previous life. For O'Brien to begin to live a new life, he must revisit the past, where a brilliant criminal mind lies waiting to write a dark future.
"A darkly suspenseful, atmospheric thriller. Absolutely relentless. I refuse to believe that this is a first novel. It's just too damned good." (Steve Hamilton, award-winning author of The Lock Artist)
"A False Dawn makes good reading for anyone longing to stumble upon an unpublished John D. MacDonald Florida mystery." (Booklist)
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First in a series
A False Dawn is the first book in Tom Lowe's Sean O'Brien series.
O'Brien was a police detective in Detroit, but with the death of his wife, he follows through on a promise he made to her. Quit the force and build a new life. He plans to fix up a cabin on backwater stretch in Florida. And live peacefully. It's a good plan until he discovers a dying young woman who whispers to him just before she dies......Well, once a detective, always a detective. O'Brien immerses himself in the search for who the girl was - and who beat her to death.
Lowe has created a strong, likable character in O'Brien that the listener can root for. I do like that he wasn't always right and made mistakes. There's a wealth of supporting characters. I was intrigued by a mysterious man named Joe Billie who appeared in the first few chapters - and then disappeared until his cameo in the final wrap up. Dave and Nick at the marina were engaging characters. I did find the 'bad guys' a bit cliched. Max the dog was a great addition to the cast.
The plot is ambitious and far reaching and on the dark side. (Fair warning to gentle listeners - there are some graphic scenes and strong language.) I had to suspend disbelief that the FBI would let a retired detective take such a leading role.
The Florida setting was well described and painted vivid mental images.
Listening to an audio book is a different experience than reading the novel. We tend to hear every detail - details we may have glossed over with a printed copy. My peeve was O'Brien's similes - even in stressful situations he's got something to compare. By the end they were simply annoying.
A False Dawn is a good first book and I would listen to another. (There are now five books in the series)
The reader, Michael David Axtell, was quite good. He has a clear, resonant voice with a little gravelly undertone that matched the mental image I had created for the character. He interpreted the book well, matching his inflection to the scenes.
- Luanne Ollivier