6 June 2017

Book Review: Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman

He was coming for her, and he was close.

Great opening line. Tara Parrish is visiting her aunt, and checks the outbuilding Aunt June rents to Oren Keeler, Tara’s childhood friend. Only the building is full of bomb-making materials and plans. Oren is the Lone Wolf Bomber the FBI are chasing. And she’s just heard his car pull up …

The front of the book had glowing endorsements from several of my favourite authors. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as they did. 

The first chapter promised non-stop thrills from Tara, a translator with the State Department, and Cal Riggins, an FBI agent on the team tracking the Lone Wolf bomber. Her occupation interested me, but it was barely mentioned.

The opening chapter also promised Tara was a Christian—and she was, but her faith seemed to be more of a foxhole faith—she called out to God when trapped and said she trusted Him, but spent most of the novel trying to survive on her own strength. It was as though the spiritual thread was more of an afterthought. Based on the opening chapter, I’d expected it to be woven in more organically.

Once the opening sequence ended, the plot jumped three months into the future.

That took something away from the suspense.

What followed was a cat-and-mouse chase of Cal trying to protect Tara from Oren. It was solid. It just didn’t live up to the level of suspense promised in the opening chapter. I also found the writing a little simplistic. There were no ‘wow’ lines—my only highlights are things that came across as plot glitches (can an FBI agent really afford tailormade business shirts? It’s more common to read novels where money is a problem for the characters.)

Oren was a great character—driven and talented, the evildoer who is the hero in his own eyes. His character was revealed layer by layer as the novel progressed, and we were able to unpeel his particular brand of mental instability. I liked that the author didn’t try and manipulate my emotions to paint Oren as some kind of victim (other than as a victim of his own misguided thinking). He was evil, pure and simple, but didn’t see that himself.

Overall, Fatal Mistake was a miss for me because it didn’t deliver on the outstanding opening.

Thanks to Faithwords and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.


  1. Thanks for your honest review, Iola. I've read lots of buzz about this book and have been curious about it. Glad to see an differing opinion.

    1. I guess this means you can read and decide what you think. I find that if I've only read raving reviews of a book, that can give me unrealistically high expectations ... which can be hard to meet.

      If I've read a dissenting review or two, I can go into the book with more realistic expectations, and often enjoy the book more.

      It's also interesting to read the critical reviews after I've read the book. Sometimes I agree with them, sometimes I disagree, and sometimes I can see each point the reviewer has made, but find it wasn't something that bothered me.