I’m sure readers out there already know how Mysteries and Thrillers are a little bit like cousins. Different, but sharing some DNA. I tend to read (and write) more on the Thriller side of the family tree. I don’t have anything against a well-crafted mystery, I just gravitate more to the action and structure of a Thriller.
All of that above is a key reason I found Interference by Brad Parks so interesting. It was positioned as a thriller, and from the description seemed right up my alley, so I dove right in. It is, in many ways, a thriller – but the story and structure lean more heavily into the Mystery side of things than I usually read, so I got a little bit of the “best of both worlds” while also getting a bit of a look under the hood at how mysteries work.
I really enjoyed the book for the most part. I thought the plot was interesting with some cool science/tech elements that were well done. At its heart though, is a story with some investigation, red herrings, and crime. It’s heavier on the investigation and lighter on the action than what I usually associate with the genre, but there’s still the “immediate tension” feel the genre provides.
Structurally, what I found really interesting is how Brad Park handled perspectives. It’s the first book in my own recent history that successfully mixes 1st and 3rd person perspectives. The story has several POV characters, but interestingly, instead of sticking to 3rd person for the full cast, Brad Park selected one to present in 1st. The transitions are handled well, it’s noticeable, but not jarring. As a writer, I find this kind of experimentation really interesting – and it’s great to see an example where it pays off.
As with any book, nothing is perfect. I thought the ending – while satisfying – felt a little rushed, with one character making a turn I didn’t entirely feel they earned. However, since I haven’t read as many mysteries as other thrillers, the ending pace may actually be on-target for that audience, so take the minor criticism (and it is minor – the ending does, absolutely, work) with a pretty sizable serving of salt.
Overall though, I really enjoyed the story. If you’re a mystery fan looking for something a little more intense or a thriller fan looking to dip your toes in a more mystery-focused book, you’ll be well served by Inference.
This book was the first I had the pleasure of reading from Brad, but I will certainly be on the lookout for more titles from him.