Tenacity by JS Law

After having read ‘chick-lit’ and a memoir, the next book I picked up was another from a genre that I don’t normally read.


I’ve always found thrillers to be a bit of a contradiction. There are so many of them out there that they can become a bit disposable, and they sort of all merge into one.


At the same time, they’re quite a feat of creativity. It can be hard to sustain the tension a thriller requires for three hundred pages, and it’s only when a thriller fails to do so that it stands out from the rest.


Therefore, it’s always with some trepidation that I begin what is billed as a thriller.


Tenacity begins at the climax of another story, almost like the reader has arrived too soon and must sit out the end of the show that was on before. It’s exciting, but it feels as if we’re intruding on something we don’t know anything about.


And then, it’s forgotten and we are riding along with Lieutenant Danielle Lewis as she is summoned some years later to investigate a suicide on the HMS Tenacity.


Except, it’s not quite forgotten. The events of what happened to Dan before colour how she is now, some years later. She is at odds with pretty much every other member of every other rank of the Royal Navy, first having dared to tackle the bad guy on her own, and secondly for suggesting he may not have worked alone.


Everyone is working against her, and so when the HMS Tenacity must set sail with the suicide still an open case, Dan suspects foul play. She immediately insists that she travel aboard to continue her investigation.


Of course, on a submarine with an all-male crew suddenly having to find sleeping quarters and showering facilities for a female is problematic at best, and with a whole bunk to herself while the men have to crush themselves into even more decreased space than normal, she suddenly finds herself making even more enemies.


Dan must work through her investigation, trying to work out who hates her because they hate her, and who hates her because they don’t want her finding out their dark secrets.


What results is a tense and claustrophobic thriller, and what JS Law manages to do in Danielle Lewis is create a character who we really get under the skin of. But the time we spend getting to know her, coupled with the time navigating the red herrings of all the other characters, we’re left with a bunch of secondary characters who don’t seem that real.


Because Dan is investigating what is apparently a suicide, we’re not even sure as a reader that there is a bad guy, although obviously there must be because it’s that sort of book. The eventual reveal of who the bad guy is not that climatic, because to me, it was fairly obvious – most thrillers tend to be thriller by numbers, and this one is no exception, but I enjoyed the way we got there.


It’s obvious this book is the start of a series, if not through the implication at the end of the book, then through it’s marketing, and that means some allowances can be made in terms of plot for the setting up of characters. Dan is set up so well here, answering the ‘Would I read the second book in the series?’ question becomes a breeze.


Would I read the second book in the series?


Do you know what? I would.


Tenacity was a fairly conventional thriller, but the writing, building of tension and a world so alien to me, yet so believable puts this above average on the scale.


It scores a 2.9 out of 5.


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