#BookReview: GIVE UP THE DEAD by Joe Clifford

Three years have passed since estate-clearing handyman Jay Porter almost lost his life following a devastating accident on the thin ice of Echo Lake. His investigative work uncovering a kids-for-cash scandal may have made his hometown of Ashton, New Hampshire, a safer place, but nothing comes without a price. The traumatic, uncredited events cost Jay his wife and his son, and left him with a permanent leg injury. Jay is just putting his life back together when a mysterious stranger stops by with an offer too good to be true: a large sum of cash in exchange for finding a missing teenage boy who may have been abducted by a radical recovery group in the northern New Hampshire wilds. Skeptical of gift horses and weary of reenlisting in the local drug war, Jay passes on the offer. The next day his boss is found beaten and left for dead, painting Jay the main suspect. As clues begin to tie the two cases together, Jay finds himself back on the job and back in the line of fire.

Published: June 6, 2017

Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon CA


My Review

This is one of those gritty, atmospheric books, where the setting is a vital part of the story. In fact, the setting was probably my favorite aspect. The story takes place in a small mountain community in New Hampshire, right at the start of winter. The author perfectly captures the New England feel with both the area and the characters.

The American Dream is terrific, as long as you don’t wake up.

I immediately connected with Jay Porter, a man who has been kicked around one too many times and is struggling to get back on his feet. I felt the edge of depression creeping in for him. But, as the story progressed, Jay began getting on my nerves. He wallows in self-pity, which he often turns into anger, and he refuses to let go of the past. And, to make matters worse, he’s a taker, happy to recruit his friends for help while treating them like crap. The book is written in first person, from Jay’s perspective, so all the brooding and disrespect made it difficult for me to stick with him.

If I focused on work, I could avoid wallowing in the shallow end of self-pity.

Addiction and recovery are at the forefront of the plot. I felt the sinking despair of the characters lost to addiction, and the struggle toward and with recovery for others.

The case Jay Porter investigates is interesting, if not a little convoluted. We go along as he unravels the details, and there are some good twists. My one problem here came with the cops’ involvement (or lack thereof). We only really see one cop doing anything, and that’s Jay’s nemesis from a previous book. The cop comes off as completely inept. I found myself wondering how he managed to do his job without Jay steering him in the right direction. I also wondered where the other cops were and why certain events weren’t being investigated with more concern.

Of course when you don’t have all the fact – when all you have is conjecture and speculation – the best you can do is force a picture from the pieces you do have.

Joe Clifford is certainly a gifted author and I enjoyed his writing style. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I liked Jay Porter enough to spend more time with him.

This is the first Jay Porter book I’ve read, and it works well as a stand-alone.

*I received an ebook copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.*


Thanks for reading. 🙂