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Book Review: Watching Class Shatter by James J. Cudney


Having followed James Cudney's blog and his reviews for some time, I knew he could write, and my expectations for his first novel Watching Glass Shatter were not let down. He has a style of writing that immediately drew me into the story, and it is certainly quite a story! I don't want to give anything away, because it is a mystery and the sense of suspense I felt throughout my reading made this such an enjoyable, memorable book. I love a thriller based around the intrigues of a family and Cudney delivers just this. The patriarch of the wealthy Glass family, Benjamin Glass, dies and leaves behind a widow and five sons. Benjamin, however, told his widow a secret about himself and one of their sons, most affected by this, which could really stir up the family and change their lives forever. That being said, she doesn't actually know which one of his sons Benjamin was referring to, so she does a bit of detective work, spending a week with each of them. I won't give anything away, but lets just say there are plenty twists and turns I didn't see coming! While the mystery really held my attention, I am such a character-driven reader and the big cast of characters in this book appealed to me. It can be a challenge to add depth to multiple characters in a novel such as this and still keep the tension high, but Cudney did it very capably. I felt this was more than a typical mystery, because there is so much thoughtful commentary on family and what it means to be linked in this way, even when we are adults. I was intrigued by each of the characters, but I think Ethan might have been my favorite to read about. I also liked how Olivia developed from someone I didn't like much at first, to a 'real' and engaging character. There were so many individual stories to learn about, and they all came together nicely, providing a satisfying conclusion and one I had not guessed.

I am quite enthusiastic about this book, for one because it is was just good, but also because, amid the sea of crime fiction I have been devouring lately, it stands out as something a little different, a little more multi-faceted. I can't believe Watching Glass Shatter was a debut novel, and very much look forward to James Cudney's future work (one more book is already available). Recommended for fans of character-driven mysteries with intricate plots!

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