DiscoverThriller & Suspense

The Seconds: A Thriller

By

Worth reading 😎

The kind of read that you close and think, "Well, that was interesting."

Synopsis

Two opponents meet at dawn, on a cold winter day, to settle a dispute by means of a pistol duel. With them are a Doctor and two friends they trust - their Seconds. Amidst the preparations for the shootout, we learn about the events of the previous night that eventually led to the duel. Something quickly becomes clear: not everyone is there for the same reason.

Something about this book really interested me. Whether it was the eye-catching cover that would look wonderful on a bookshelf, or the synopsis that was compelling enough to make me immediately curious about the situation the two opponents and the Doctor were in, I'm not sure, but I didn't hesitate before adding the book to my list.


The intro to the book grabbed my attention. I had no doubt that the author really put in the time and effort into creating the atmosphere of every scene, and this thought only strengthened as I went deeper and deeper into the book. If I had to rate The Seconds only on the ambience, I would give it five stars without a second thought. But, The Seconds wasn't meant to be a series of written postcards, but rather a whole book - with layered personalities, a good story, and engaging writing. And unfortunately, the detail that went into creating the atmosphere seemed excessive at certain points in the book. I almost felt like I was reading an entire paragraph about the placement on someone's elbow on a table, and it made the writing seem quite slow and dragged out at those points.


That would be my only concern, because apart from that, I enjoy a good mystery (almost as a rule), and there was plenty of that in the book, albeit subtly told. The narrative shifted from the past to the present with each chapter, and if I could describe it, I'd say it felt like the stretching of an elastic band - pulled slowly apart until it can't stretch any further and snaps back to the centre; a quick, amusing, satisfying release of the built-up suspense.


It was around the 70% mark of the book that I began to thoroughly enjoy myself, and it made me wonder if the writing was the sort that just took time getting used to, and I began to withhold any criticism till I reached the end, which, like I mentioned, was very satisfying - the kind you read and think "well, that was interesting."


I'd say this book is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but if it is yours, you might like it much, much more than I did, and for that, I recommend it freely. The story is certainly quite fascinating, and in a very real way - a solid 3-star read.

Reviewed by

I'm Arshia, and if anything, I'd probably identify with a witch's brew, because I'm made up of the most eclectic bunch of interests and ideas one could imagine. Two of those interests happen to be reading and writing, and Reedsy will help me manifest the very same into my own witch's brew.

Synopsis

Two opponents meet at dawn, on a cold winter day, to settle a dispute by means of a pistol duel. With them are a Doctor and two friends they trust - their Seconds. Amidst the preparations for the shootout, we learn about the events of the previous night that eventually led to the duel. Something quickly becomes clear: not everyone is there for the same reason.

Frozen River

There was a tickling sensation on his right hand.

It moved forward rapidly, covering his arm first before embracing his shoulders and resting at the base of his neck. He wasn’t sure of the cause. His skin had only now come to notice the freezing temperature of the air, as if he had only now woken up, lucid for the first time after a long period spent unconscious, letting himself be carried by the tide never really at the helm. Beside tickling his body and waking his mind, this shiver had also shredded the veil of numbness and adrenaline shielding his body. He felt uncomfortable. He felt vulnerable.

Things had changed quickly; people even quicker. Now, in the middle of nowhere, he was taking part in a crime that would have been unthinkable just hours prior. The shadow of doubt grew stronger while he recalled the series of events leading to that moment: the drinking, playing cards, and then suddenly fighting at the tavern. The long, intense conversations of that night. The shameful act he was about to witness.

The tickling sensation became stronger, and he felt an uncomfortable knot in his throat take his breath away. His mind started running and concluded that none of this made sense. He moved his eyes left and right, trying to find some meaning in the elements surrounding him. He could not. It was just snow all around him and ice beneath him. The whitened trees of the forest stood indifferent, far from his reach. The shivering horses stuck together, trying to find some shelter. He was all alone, a stark figure standing on a white canvas, unable to find cover, powerless in the presence of the armed men behind him. He was a target.

He gasped. He hadn’t noticed it, but he hadn’t taken a breath in a long time. With the flow of fresh oxygen, the panic seemed to disappear unexpectedly. The knot in his throat was somehow swallowed; the tickling sensation at his nape faded away. This couldn’t be it, he thought. This was just his mind playing games, and soon enough this entire affair would be forgotten. He breathed out a second time, seeking peace of mind. He was stuck in limbo, swinging between anxiety and logic, dancing with both fear and certainty. He knew there was just one way to know for sure if he had been right. He hesitated one more moment, then began to turn around. He moved his legs first, cautious, as if his weight alone could break the thick layer of ice. He rotated his hips and shoulders, and finally his neck and face. The tickling sensation smothered him when he saw the two pistols aimed at him.

He was right.

About the author

Merlini loves a good thriller. One with an intriguing premise, memorable characters, and where the details come together naturally at the time of the reveal. If you like this too, this book is for you. view profile

Published on June 30, 2020

60000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by

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