I decided to read this book on the recommendation of my girlfriend whom loves John Katzenbach because of his descriptive writing style and the tension he builds in his novels. The fact that she has read most of his novels made me really excited to read this book as I’d never really read a psychological or crime novel before.
The novel is based around two main characters Jennifer and Adrian. They are two very different people whom live in the same small academic town in New England. Adrian is an aging psychology Professor who sadly and ironically is diagnosed with Dementia. Having spent his life studying how the mind works the Professor is rocked to the core when he finds out that in a short period of time he will lose his mind’s functions until eventually he passes away. Using the example of his brother and wife, Adrian decides to take his own life before he loses the thing that makes him who he is and decides to use his brother’s gun on himself. However, on the drive home from the hospital Adrian sees a young girl walking past his house and thinks he witnesses her been kidnapped. This event causes Adrian to have one last meaning in life and with the help of his loved ones’ illusions caused by his illness, Adrian must discover where Jennifer is.
Jennifer Riggins is a 16 year old girl who has become a social outcast with her friends and family. With an abusive step-father and deluded mother, Jennifer believes her only hope of salvation is to escape her boring old town and move to New York and hopes this time her escape will finally succeed. That is until a young couple approach her in a white van and ask her for directions. Jennifer is quickly assaulted and bundled into the van and taken to the couples’ secret location where she is imprisoned and broadcast to the internet on the website whatcomesnext.com. The couple play out their sick fantasies on Jennifer for thousands of people to watch. The couple know that their audience will only pay attention for so long and plan to make their finale of the programme something they'll never forget! Jennifer's time is running short and she only has one hope, but will Adrian solve the mystery of her disappearance or will his illness get the better of him?
This was a very interesting book to read. I thought the main plot idea of the girl been held against her will and the unlikely hero Adrian saving her. I thought he was going to struggle with his illness but ultimately overcome it to save Jennifer, which would make this book very entertaining because it caused a lot of suspense.
However, there were some points that I really didn’t like. Firstly, the pace of the book was quite slow and sometimes struggled to keep my attention. For instance, when the girl is captured nothing really happens to her. The author goes into some detail about the perversions of the sick couple who kidnap her, but they don’t seem to do anything to her. Plus Adrian’s visions and hallucinations seem a bit of a cheap way to help him solve the crime. Anytime he struggles in the mystery one of his allusions comes along and points him in the right direction and then everything is hunky-dory again. I just thought if there was more emphasis and urgency on finding Jennifer it would have made the book much more enjoyable to read.
As I said above, my girlfriend has read most of Katzenbach’s books and assures me his other ones are much more gripping. Having reread What Comes Next again, she also believes it was a little slow but I’m excited to try one of his other novels!
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