Long Way Home is technically a sequel to Red-Tainted Silence but it’s easily, and perhaps better read as a stand-alone story. RTS is such a good novel that any sequel would have a tough time measuring up. The author smartly went for a secondary character to star in the sequel but it lacks the intensity and excellence of the first book. This one is ok/decent enough but it pales considerably when compared to the first book. The writing, the characters, even the plot all seem to struggle making this a choppy and ultimately disappointing story.
The plot of LWH starts with Dream bass player Lee. THIs time around Lee is dealing with a tragic past and mysterious future. Lee’s been given anonymous tickets to the ballet in Dallas where he meets the long lost brother Gev of Lee’s childhood friend, Stef, Stef being a kid who went missing so many years ago and presumed dead. Just as Lee and Gev reunite, Gev is suddenly in danger surrounded by dead bodies and murder attempts. Lee decides to hang around Gev and try to protect him from this unknown threat while exploring the attraction between them.
First of all the plot has a lot going on. The book starts with the sudden appearance of Lee’s past but then heads straight into the attempts on Gev’s life which leads to quite a bit of mental masturbation by Lee, agonizing over whether or not he’s leaving Dallas. The realization that pretty much every single person in the book is keeping their own set of deep dark secrets, not to mention the missing brother and our of the blue crazy killer. The problem is that any single one of these issues could have been used to build the story around but when using all of them, none of them feel fleshed out and complete. Instead the story jackrabbits from idea to idea with a lack of logic and explanation.
Secondly the writing feels very choppy and rough. Frequently I would stop reading just to re-read sentences because they feel very awkwardly constructed. Not to mention there were random symbols inserted into the text and frequently missing words. What disappoints me the most is that the book lacks the intensity and engaging writing of the first book. This story never sucked me in nor engaged my interest that much. In fact I considered abandoning it about halfway through. I stuck with it though because there are brief spots of brightness in the story.
The secondary characters of Nina and her son are really adorable, along with Gev’s various friends. Any of them easily steal the scenes they’re in. Part of this is that Gev and Lee are so predictable, as is the plot, that they become kind of boring. It’s obvious when they’ll finally get together, just as it’s way too clear the big misunderstanding they’ll eventually have and work through. These aren’t bad ideas but they’re handled in very clunky ways that takes any of the intrigue or excitement out of the story.
Also the identity of the crazy killer is simply silly. There are so many clues given throughout the story that make this “twist” improbable. For example the comment that Nina looks exactly like Stef. Now some similar features sure, like Gev, but exactly doesn’t make sense given the later outcome. Then the version of events the killer gives at gunpoint doesn’t match up to previous comments either. So this resolution feels artificial and kind of silly.
Sequels to beloved books are tough and I don’t envy Gray trying to match RTS. Unfortunately I was more disappointed and let down by LWH than anything and kind of wish I hadn’t read it. It didn’t really measure up for me and ultimately I didn’t enjoy this book. It could be that I’m biased knowing what the author is capable of or simply having loved the first book but I think this particular book just isn’t the same quality and excellence unfortunately.