Book Review: I Will Ruin You by Linwood Barclay


Rating: 3.5⭐️

After high school English teacher Richard Boyle intercepts Mark LeDrew, a former student attempting to enter the school building with a bomb strapped to his chest and manages to talk him out of entering the building thus averting a mass tragedy, he is hailed a hero. However, the incident also attracts the attention of a former student with a grudge. Billy Finster, an airport baggage handler with shady dealings, threatens to go public with his allegations unless Richard pays him for his silence. Richard vehemently denies Billy’s allegations but suspects that Billy’s accusations might not be completely baseless as Mark had also voiced similar grievances. But Billy isn’t Richard’s only problem. Jealous colleagues, a lawsuit, irate parents protesting Richard’s classroom discussions on books they deem inappropriate and coping with the trauma of almost being blown up and the strain of keeping secrets from his wife complicated the situation further. Unbeknownst to Richard, Billy’s criminal associates are being investigated by Richard’s sister-in-law, who works in law enforcement. As the narrative progresses, we follow Richard as he tries to deal with his blackmailer, keep himself and his family safe from Billy’s criminal associates and get to the truth behind Billy’s accusations.

Having enjoyed the author’s work in the past, I was eager to read his latest offering. I was intrigued by the premise of I Will Ruin You by Linwood Barclay. The narrative is shared in short chapters from multiple perspectives, including Richard’s first-person PoV. Twisty, suspenseful and consistently paced, there is a lot to like about this thriller. The beginning of the novel had me hooked. Richard was an interesting protagonist and I thought the author incorporated several relevant themes into the narrative. However, as the narrative progressed, I thought that there was perhaps too much going on (a few of the sub-plots were unnecessary), which was distracting. I was hoping for a more tightly woven thriller and I can’t help feeling a tad disappointed, though I did enjoy the novel overall and look forward to exploring more of the author’s work in the future.

Many thanks to William Morrow for the digital review copy via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.