A Breath After Drowning doesn’t play around


A Breath After Drowning is for people who enjoy psychology with their thriller, though its conclusion reveals the ultimate villain as somewhat overprepared.

Shows like Criminal Minds have lasted so long because they fill a particular niche with their audience: diving into what makes someone tick. In a way, Alice Blanchard’s A Breath After Drowning, sent to me by Titan Books, feels like it’s perfectly calibrated for fans of that show. Not only is our protagonist working with patients, she also has some past crimes in her history — a murdered sister among others. (There are a lot of mentions of mental illness in here as well as suicide and murders of children.)

And in that way, the book ends up being fascinating. Kate Wolfe isn’t an actual investigator, and even if she were, she’d have found herself off this case long ago for how personal it is. Plenty of twists help keep the reader engaged. However, those same twists end up seriously messing with Kate herself.

It’s hard to read at points because of it. Kate ends up quite cut off from pretty much anyone, and she’s dealing with traumas both new and old. Granted, this doesn’t last forever, but this book is a solid 400+ pages in the paperback edition sent to me for review. That’s a lot of stuff to get through.

Perhaps the most major complaint is how everything pays off so effectively. Now, there’s a reason for that in the book. But it’s still hard to think about how long all of this has been going on. Blanchard tries to explain away parts of the mystery, but those explanations feel hollow. It’s all left feeling particularly artificial — and yes, I know, it’s a work of fiction, but the point remains. There is one exception to this, though: the ending scenes, which are raw in the best way.

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For those who need something dark to accompany some recent spring dreariness, A Breath After Drowning should hit the spot. It’s not a book that left this reader wanting more or shaken after finishing it. Stil, it certainly drew me in enough to make it all the way through the story.