We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman

Author: Becky Masterman
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Series: Brigid Quinn book #4
Format: Paperback
Genre: Mystery | Suspense

Back Cover Blurb

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote’s masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

What I Thought

After struggling for a number of weeks, I’ve given up. Given up trying to finish this one, even though it’s by an author who—up till now—I’ve enjoyed reading. I don’t know what it is about it other than the utterly glacial pacing and rather uninspired characters. There’s something else I can’t quite put my finger on. But think it’s the fact that absolutely nothing—and I mean, nothing happens till almost 30 pages from the end when one of the characters does something completely out of character (re: stupid) and creates a false situation that, in and of itself, isn’t all that tense or dramatic.

You would think a hostage situation would have drama in it, but no. This one was as dull as the characters taking part. Characters who, I might add, also appeared in the three previous books in this series. I really enjoyed the earlier outings of the ex-FBI agent, Brigid Quinn, and her ex-priest husband, Carlo.

So why did this one drag?

I think that has more to do, possibly, with the alternating chapters between our erstwhile heroine and the antagonist, in which we see episodes of his life after leaving prison interspersed with flashbacks to the who / what / where / and how he ended up going to jail. But it never gels.

It never really comes across as being taught, or tense, and the narrative wanders and strays so that, in the end, we really don’t get to grips with who he is, what he’s done, how bad it was, nothing. It feels empty of all threat and, therefore, when we get to the climactic point in the story, it’s, well, predictable.

Certainly, there is nothing ‘thrilling’ or sensational about this book, though it’s starred as being a thriller about real-life events that are used to show a ‘what-if’ in a sensational murder if there had been a third party involved. In this case, the antagonist of Masterman’s WE WERE KILLERS ONCE.

With all the familiar faces, in a setting readers of this series will be familiar with, there is nothing to recommend Masterman’s fourth outing with Brigid. It all feels terribly contrived, slow, and, when all said and done, dull.

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