Review: “The Binding,” Nicholas Wolff

Pros: Fascinating background
Cons: There’s a lot to keep track of; poor assumptions
Rating: 3 out of 5

Nicholas Wolff’s The Binding introduces us to psychiatrist Nat Thayer and police detective John Bailey. Bodies are piling up, and Nat and John, old friends, are trying to figure out what’s going on. Eventually they have to face up to the fact that what’s going on can only be explained through supernatural means.

I have to get this off of my chest first: one of the side characters turns up dead (hanged). Even though his hands were tied everyone’s assuming it’s a suicide–to the point where the police are trying to figure out how he tied up his own hands. Note that there’s nothing else that in any way indicates this must be a suicide. Nothing. Not. A. Single. Thing. Even after stab marks are found on his back, he still ends up labeled as a suicide. Argh! This is part of a pattern. This is not the only place in the book where the characters assume something without enough reason. It seems like the author is so set on putting forward a certain narrative that he overrides the characters’ own senses and intelligence. There needs to be enough evidence to back up character assumptions.

Things start going a bit crazy–bodies going missing from the morgue, more people dying. A fascinating piece of backstory comes out from several generations earlier, regarding a series of incidents in Haiti. The book takes place in a little town where many people can easily trace their family lines back to that fateful trip. This is one of the best parts of the book, in my opinion. It starts to shed some light on what’s going on. Usually I don’t want a book to suddenly jump through time and space in the middle, but Wolff kept it interesting enough to keep hold of me.

I found some elements toward the end a bit confusing, and lost track of some people. There were bits and pieces that felt insufficiently explained. The pacing hiccups here and there. Ultimately, however, I appreciated the ending and how it worked out the way it did. (Sorry for the vagueness–obviously I don’t want to give the ending away.)

Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: June 28, 2016

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