Mystery Book Review | Takes One to Know One by Susan Isaacs

⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Takes One to Know One is a fresh take on a contemporary hard-boiled mystery. Corie Schottland Gellar, former FBI agent, is learning to navigate suburban upper-class America complete with a new husband who is working on climbing the rungs of judgedom and a young teen daughter who is going through all the angst teen girls go through. Despite her best attempts at being a typical stay-at-home mother, she can’t help but see mystery and intrigue in places that other people don’t notice.

What I Like

The main character, Corie, is endearingly flawed. Through her eyes, her marriage seems lackluster at best, and her new profession as a reader of Arabic lit for a few publishers is a bit humdrum. She doesn’t like her husband to go away for long cases, partly because that means she’ll be alone to face the responsibilities of having a family and partly because that means if an exciting FBI opportunity comes along, she won’t be a be able to pursue it. She’s going through the same problems that many men and women go through when they decide to put family over career.

The pace of the second half of the book is fast and action-filled. When FBI agent Corie emerges (as opposed to stay-at-home Corie), the speed and content of the story reflect that change. That part of the story grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go until the killer is caught.

I appreciated the unique plot sequence. Where most mystery novels start with a crime and the rest of the story is about the detective figuring out who-did-it, Takes One to Knows One begins with the mystery of whether there is a mystery that needs to be solved. Once she establishes that there is one and that luckily it falls under the jurisdiction on the FBI, the action the reader anticipates from the beginning finally ensues.

What I Wish

The first half of the story had been condensed into two or three chapters. It was so slow-paced that it was painful to get through. Technically, the plot choices were spot on, maybe even ingenious as it reflects how the main character was feeling, but from a reader’s perspective, it was incredibly hard to remain focused and interested in the story, which is unfortunate because the second half offers what the reader is hoping to read.

Corie and her father open a private detective agency. I think that is what both need in their lives and it would make an excellent follow-up story.

To Read or Not to Read

If you are a reader that is okay with a slow pace story or are willing to power through the first half of the story, you will enjoy the thrill of the second half of the novel.

5 Comments

  1. I’m pretty used to stories taking some time to start up – I read lots of fantasy trilogies, so the writer often isn’t in a huge rush and has some world-building to do. If the characters are interesting to me, they’ll get me through it… usually. It sounds like the 2nd half is worth the wait if you can get there. 🙂

  2. It sounds like the second half of the book really delivered.

    I’m okay with slow starts—sometimes. I have to be in the mood for them. Other times, if I feel like I’m slogging through chapters, the book will likely be a DNF for me.
    Hopefully, readers will stick with this through the first half. It sounds like it has spin-off potential, too.

    1. If I had expected it, I would definitely have been less impacted. But since I didn’t know – it seemed like I was reading a mystery where ”is there a mystery?” is the mystery and there just wasn’t a lot of action in that.

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