Book Review: The Box

Dan Malakin ~ The Box

Synopsis

Ed Truman’s family is falling apart. His daughter Ally is being targeted by an alt-right incel organisation, Men Together. His house is being picketed, former clients are accusing him of sexual assault, his son won’t speak to him. And then Ally disappears.

Frantic, Ed suspects that Men Together have abducted her. But before he can go to the police, his DNA is found on the body of a young woman. Suddenly he’s the subject of a nationwide manhunt, led by the tenacious DCI Jackie Rose. Ed finds himself on the run with Ally’s friend, Phoenix, who claims to know where Ally is. But what is the truth? Is Ed a violent sexual predator? Or is he the victim of a ruthless conspiracy? The answers are in The Box. But not everyone who goes in, comes out alive…

Review

Wow – what a gripping start! Just a few pages into The Box and my heart was racing and I had goosebumps. A young girl missing, targeted by incels and her father on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.

This book has an excellent pace and really is a page-turner throughout. There is plenty of action, anticipation and foreboding, with some really strong characters. Phoenix is independent and stubborn, but underneath she is naïve and vulnerable, like all teenagers. Ed feels just like a typical bloke who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, making sense of gossip and scaremongering.

Men Together is a terrifying concept and one that is quite hard to read about. Malakin tackles this well, combining research and strong characters to show how people are targeted and indoctrinated into these types of organisations. Very scary.

Unfortunately Jackie Rose is not written particularly well. So often we have a female detective who is ‘difficult’ and ‘fiercely independent’ and although she has a bit more substance than some, she is just the same – working through her own traumas and letting it dictate her approach to other cases. Her attitude is questionable and one wouldn’t think this would be condoned by most organisations, no matter what someone had been through.

The story is good, but pans out as one would expect… there are a few eyebrow raises, but mostly the characters play out as expected, especially those that have betrayed the family. The title is also quite deceptive as The Box itself is a very small part of the story and isn’t as impactful as it is made out to be from the synopsis.

The Box does touch on some important topics, vividly depicting methods of conversion therapy, as well as the idea of ‘trial by media’ – innocent until proven guilty all but forgotten in a world of Twitter, TikTok and fake news – but loses its way slightly in the second half.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I received an advance copy of The Box from Viper Books. Opinions my own.

For more book and theatre reviews, visit @Paradise_Library on Instagram.

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