If When

Issue sevenIssue Seven Reviews

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Reviewed by Brittney Alexander.

He had always been fond of knives. Each hilt sat warm and comfortable in the palm of his hand, as though asking to be cherished. He enjoyed sharpening them, and felt they sang back to him.”

Barbara Gaskell Denvil’s novel If When is the first book of her The Games People Play series. Despite having success with her other works, Denvil now self-publishes and is freer and happier in her writing life. Having previously embraced and written in other genres, she now finds crime-mystery to be one of her greatest passions. This book, If When, not only explores the genre but dives right in.

The story revolves around the lives of two elderly protagonists, Sylvia and Harry, after they find the dead body of a young woman during a trip to Monte Carlo. We follow their journey as a string of bodies are discovered, and Sylvia and Harry become invested in unearthing the identity of the serial killer. The chapters shift from the lovely and warm characters of Sylvia, Harry and their friends to the killer’s perspective. Going into gruesome detail, you can’t help but feel the horror of the crimes being committed in your very heart. Each piece of the story is unfolded at exactly the right time, to keep you guessing and hungry for more but also slowly unravelling the knots of this world.

Perhaps it’s the fact that the main characters are a bit older than the majority of books that we see today or maybe it’s the fact that the killer is so coldblooded that makes this novel unique, but it really does pull in the audience from the first page. It’s an interesting take on something that is not new to the scene. The overall plot is well told and written with purpose and intrigue. The conclusion is just what you hope for and leaves the audience wanting more. I am looking forward to seeing what Denvil brings out next in regard to this series.