Review: Hand of Fate by Lis Wiehl and April Henry

Hand of Fate is the second installment of the Triple Threat series. The story starts off with a chemical attack that sends the city of Portland into panic mode. Someday has just killed controversial talk show host Jim Fate and everyone is afraid the poison is spreading. The first half of the book covers the three main characters, friends who each offer something different to the story. Cassidy is a court reporter and is portrayed in a stereotypical way, blonde, beautiful and trying to keep her age to herself. Then there's Allison, a federal prosecutor, and then Nicole, an FBI agent. Allison and Nicole were already going to help Fate discover who was sending him death threats, so when he dies they're involved with finding out who killed Fate, and why. Cassidy has personal reasons for being involved.

When I received this copy from Thomas Nelson I was really excited. I loved the cover and thought the premise sounded intriguing. I love reading this type of fiction. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into the story.

I put this review off. In fact, I put off reading the book. The review was supposed to be done a month ago but I forgot the date the publisher wanted it up, and when I realized it had passed, I just kept waiting...

There are a ton of reasons the story didn't work for me, but they're probably subjective and not helpful. One reason is that the beginning felt too slow to be a thriller and there wasn't enough emphasis on whodunnit to be a mystery. The first hundred pages seemed to mostly be telling me about the character's lives and who they are. The second half of the book kicked into overdrive and clues started rolling in, but it almost felt too easy and too quick. I had a super hard time connecting with the characters. There also seemed to be a lot of political preaching in the story, with major life dramas going on (addiction, immigration, abuse).

Besides that, though, I definitely think the authors started off with a great premise and I've heard the first book in the series was amazing, so I hope maybe the last book will be amazing too. The prose was solid and the details were pretty interesting. Something, unfortunately, just didn't connect for me.

I prefer not to write negative reviews but I also don't like to lie, so this was hard for me. When was the last time you had to tell a painful truth?


Angie Muresan said…
Thanks for providing us with this review, Jessica. Some books are just like that, so don't feel like you've wasted time. Think of all the time you've saved your readers. :D
Jennifer Shirk said…
I did a review last year that was hard to do too. A book is so subjective, so it's best to be honest. You did a good job with it. :)
Jessica Nelson said…
Angie, I want to save readers time yet I cringe to think one of the authors might read this and get their feelings hurt. It's hard...I'm feeling for editors and agents right now. lol

Jennifer, thanks so much! I can't remember if I read your review or not, which means you probably did a good job too since it didn't stick out in my mind as abnormally negative.

I agree that it's best to be honest.
Diane said…
Honesty is the best policy. I'm too nice too and hate to write bad reviews. I always try to find the good, but that doesn't make me a good critiquer. :O)
Jody Hedlund said…
It's very hard for me to give reviews! But you did this one very tastefully! Most of the time, I just try not to say anything when I don't care for a book that others raved about. Sometimes it really is so subjective (like I mentioned in my post today!). But in this case, it sounds like there were definitely some plot/story issues.
I don't like to do a negative review, either, but TN wants the truth from their reviewers. We aren't doing them any favors by sugar coating our opinions.

I've not been impressed with their offerings, with the exception of a children's dvd of Bible stories that my grandkids adored.
Jessica Nelson said…
Jeanette, sadly I have to agree. The last few books I've read for them don't seem to have strong spiritual themes AT ALL. I'd rather read secular fiction than the watery stuff I'm getting from them. I did like their kid stuff too, though. :-)

Jody, I'd like to believe there's story problems, but the book had a lot of five stars so really it may've just been me. I wouldn't have written this review except I have to in order to get more books. *grin*
Jessica Nelson said…
Diane, that's true. Critiquing does require an uncomfortable level of honesty sometimes.
anita said…
Wow! That IS a beautiful cover. Jessie, you did a great job with the review. And you didn't come across as negative at all. You stated clearly that your take on it was subjective, and then listed why it didn't work for you.

You were honest. And that's one of your best qualities. It's also why you have such a great following on this blog. :-)

As for when I last told a painful truth? Hmmm. I can't remember. I try to avoid those. HA!

No, really, it was most likely during a crit session or something. I really can't remember an exact instance. I do think I block out things like that after the fact. I don't like remembering having to hurt someone's feelings ... even if it was for the best. Bleck.
Hi Jess -

You stuck to the facts and didn't make any personal attacks on the writer. With thrillers/suspense, jumping into the action is critical.

I like reviewing for Multnomah/Waterbrook. It seems their books satisfy my reading tastes. Most of the books I recommend are my personal choices. I'll only feature them if I liked them.

Susan :)
Erin said…
I didn't think this was a negative review. It was an honest review in which you acknowledged subjectivity and did your best to explain why the book didn't work for you.

I might be a bit disappointed, if I were the authors, but I certainly wouldn't be upset. And honest reviews like this one make the good reviews you get to give so much more valuable!

Tastefully done, in any case. And thanks for sharing it!
Tana said…
OMGosh Jessica I love you! That you wrote a honest review and heartfelt (you were not throwing spears) just raises my admiration of you!!!! I think you're awesome!
Jessica Nelson said…
Hahaa! Anita, I try to avoid those too. :-) I'm glad it doesn't come across too negative. I'm definitely not made to be a critic. lol

Susan, in order to get another book, I have to do the review. Thanks for mentioning Multnomah. I think I might go check them out...
Jessica Nelson said…
Erin, thank you so much for you sweet words. :-)

T. Anne, girl, you're making me blush.
Nancy J. Parra said…
You are so right, stories are subjective. I'm like you, I hate to give bad reviews but like to be honest. So I will usually start with, "I am not the audience for this book." :) Because every book has it's own audience.

Thanks for sharing and being honest. cheers~
Warren Baldwin said…
You have character! It is hard to do a good review of something you have a hard time with. I think you handled this one very adroitly. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." You did that.
Linda Kage said…
I'm all about that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" motto. If I really can't stand a story, I probably won't even talk about it.

But I like how tactful you are. Very professional!
Jill Kemerer said…
Thank you for sharing this review, Jessica. I think it's important for all of us authors to be objective about our work, even when we get published.

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