MixedWashington Independent Review of BooksThis postmodern, literary story has the potential to bewilder or delight ... While a crime is at its core, John Woman is not a crime novel. It’s a full-blown literary endeavor, with all the pluses and minuses that may entail ... A literary novel is a character-driven thing, with plot subordinate. The downside to this is that the plots don’t always make sense. Convenient coincidences that place the character in a position to exhibit the emotion or trait the author wants at a given time lurk around every corner ... In the end, it’s all too convenient to be satisfying ... Passages that inspire head scratching are followed by authorial asides to ensure you get this point. That can work within reason, but done too often, it disturbs the vivid fictive dream the best books strive to achieve in the reader ... Passages that inspire head scratching are followed by authorial asides to ensure you get this point. That can work within reason, but done too often, it disturbs the vivid fictive dream the best books strive to achieve in the reader ... There’s a momentum to the writing that pulls the reader through to the end.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksEvery twist is well prepared, and the primary red herring works well. (I was sure I had things figured out halfway through. Not even close.) The story unfolds at a leisurely pace until the natural momentum starts to accelerate events, after which the reveals come one after another, each building on what came before ... The tying off of all the threads at the end is well done, yet not so neat as to seem contrived. Barclay is expert at keeping his chess pieces in motion throughout so readers can accept the premise of an action with no extraordinary suspensions of disbelief. Thriller fans will find everything they look for and then some ... The end result is a story that picks up speed as it careens toward an ending that Barclay nails.