Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: All That Is Necessary by Jennie Coughlin

All That Is Necessary
By Jennie Coughlin
Series: Exeter #1
Publication date: January 9, 2013
Genre: Small-town Contemporary Fiction
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon
Source: Author in exchange for unbiased review
* purchases made through buy links support this blog
My review of Thrown Out: Stories from Exeter


Twenty years ago, Rick Murray left town after his father was arrested by the State Police for trying to murder Rick's best friend, Dan Reilly. Now Rick is back in Exeter. Dan must grapple with Rick's return and the memories that come with him. As childhood memories run headlong into the reality of what happened that summer, both men must adjust to the idea that things weren't as simple as they seemed back then. All That Is Necessary explores the collision between past and present, between memory and reality, and between two former friends whose lives changed one summer more than twenty years ago.
Last year I read a collection of short stories called Thrown Out: Stories from Exeter by Jennie Coughlin. My favorite was the story of two young boys who found dead bodies in a marsh outside of town and All That is Necessary takes us back to Exeter twenty years later with some of the same characters. This isn’t your typical story, there are relationships but romance isn’t the focus instead we revisit the past when it collides with the present and the effects it has on our main characters. I easily consumed this in a single afternoon and while not flawless it certainly held my attention.

Events twenty years ago forced Rick Murray to leave his hometown when his father was arrested for trying to murder Rick’s best friend Dan Reilly. Rick accepts a head coaching job and moves back to Exeter causing quite a stirrup as Dan and his friends are once again faced with the memories. The whole town is curious as to Rick’s motives for returning. The tale that unfolded gives us a closer look at those events and the impact it had on the small town. All when weaving a new situation and threat to the town of Exeter. 

Coughlin gives us an array of characters and none of them are cookie cutter. Dan Reilly is a college graduate and works with his Dad as a handyman. He is also very active in the town, and with the college. He is openly gay and lives with his husband Chris. Until Rick returned he was pretty centered, but discoveries shake his inner core and we watch him struggle to understand. I liked Dan, but struggled with the way he handled things in the beginning. The town is made up of old families and it's the type of place where an outsider is an outsider unless he was born there. Rick is struggling with the events that separated him and his Dad. His Dad has refused to see him and it’s been almost twenty years. He not really sure why he is back and if he searching for closure or revenge? Dan’s family, best friend and townies make up the cast, as well as the Irish Mob creating an interesting dynamic. I wanted to get into the characters heads a little more and while I understood them they fell a little flat at times. 

Exeter is a small town in Massachusetts with a college campus but it’s also struggling in the current economy. The author does a great job of showing the diverse age groups, multiple generation families as well as the re-growth and decay of the town. We get a strong sense of the events that occurred twenty years ago and the impact it has when Rick resurfaces. Rick’s Dad and the mob was a fascinating thread that added suspense. I wanted more depth and a little less telling in this story but found all the different threads compelling. Coughlin brings up some touch social subjects; prejudices, corruption, politics, and through characters makes you see the situation from all perspectives. The author has strong command of her story and the tale flowed smoothly, allowing me to immerse myself despite wanting more. The ending was positive and set us up for the next book, but it ended abruptly and I found it jarring. It wasn't a cliffy, so don't panic it just happened when I wasn't expecting it. 

If you are looking for a tale about a small-town secrets, suspense and the characters who reside there then I recommend reading All That Is Necessary.

Three cups of coffee out of five
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21 Comments:

At July 17, 2013 at 9:58 PM , Anonymous Bea @ Bea's Book Nook said...

It sounds intriguing and I do like small town stories though since I live in MA, if the author gets the details wrong, I will be a cranky Bea! :D

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous candacerobinson said...

I haven't heard of this one, but I gotta say it sounds kind of interesting. I mean the small town stuff is definitely interesting to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it even if it didn't blow you away.

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous Meradeth Snow said...

Sounds like an interesting read--different from my normal fare. Something to keep in mind when I need something new to check out :)

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

thanks Meradeth, it was refreshing!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

There were so many aspects I loved and some where i wanted more, but totally worth the read!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

It wasn't all tell and no show, but I wanted to experience it not have some parts narrated. Does that make sense? The characters are great and I loved how unique they were..so refreshing!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous Trish Hannon said...

Yep, I get you. Will stick it higher up on the maybe pile so!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh the one kind of ending I hate more than cliffies is the abrupt ending! I'll really have to think about it. Still, I do enjoy a book that the focus isn't on romance. Sometimes it is a nice change of pace.

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

We got some clarity, but it felt like I missed the last scene and credits, you know what I mean? Although it will continue because things are heating up..and Exeter has some big problems heading its way!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous Trish Hannon said...

Sometimes, its refreshing to read a book where the romance is just a side story. I kinda hate telling rather than showing, it puts me off. On the other hand, the diversity of characters sounds good. Will stick it in the maybe pile :-)

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous Blodeuedd said...

Weeeell I do like small towns ;)

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

me too, have a great weekend cupcake!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

I am anxious for the next book and didn't miss the romance

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous thegeekyblogger said...

Small town suspense is usually pretty good. I am not sure this one would hit the spot with me but I will keep it on the radar.

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

thanks Felicia, enjoy your weekend!

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kindlemom1 said...

Oh I love a good mystery with suspense and this sounds like it was a good read for you. Sometimes it is nice having something where romance isn't the main focus for a change.

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

This touched on some great issues and I loved the suspenseful thread, course small-town dynamics are always fun to read about

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous Jenea Whittington said...

Small towns and mystery always go good together, but ending like that can rough. Glad you did still enjoy it. Great review.

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

thanks Jenea (when you get a chance link your blog up to your new Disqus account or your twitter)

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous brandileigh2003 said...

Glad for the diversity of the characters, but the cover doesn't do anything for me

 
At July 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM , Anonymous kimbacaffeinate said...

While I am not a huge fan, it does tie in perfectly with a key thread in the book

 

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