My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When author Michael Stephenson approached me about reading and reviewing his up-and-coming book “The Man on the Roof” and told me it was in the same vein as Gone Girl or The Woman in the Window, I was more than happy to oblige. I am always up for a good thriller!
It took me a couple of weeks to read, admittedly mostly because life got in the way, but also because the story is super long. The first hundred pages of the book took me a little while to get into primarily because there are a lot of characters and I was having a hard time keeping track of all their story lines. However, once I started getting into the meat of the story, I found myself taking my Nook to the gym and reading while I biked. I didn’t want to put it down.
The Man on the Roof is a story of the murder of a young, teenage boy and the subsequent public display of his body in suburban Ohio. There is reason to believe the teen was blackmailing a member of the community, all of the neighbors are suspects, and everybody has a secret (one they may be willing to kill to protect). The book was primarily told in third person, but switched to first person on occasion at which point it was told through the eyes of each of the 10 neighborhood suspects. I liked the fact that when told through each neighbor’s perspective, Stephenson did not link any names to the suspects, rather denoting them as “Suspect 1,” “Suspect 2”, etc. so the reader was constantly trying to guess who was involved in what dirty little secrets. I honestly could have used a pen and paper to take notes and garner clues throughout the book in an attempt to figure out how all of the suspects were linked.
If we are talking about comparisons, I would liken this book more to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express than Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It was a true whodunnit with a thriller element thrown in, albeit much darker in nature than Murder on the Orient Express. It also gave me a Desperate Housewives vibe taking place in sunny suburbia, where people try to maintain their positive and cheerful outward appearances to their friends and neighbors, but hold terrible secrets within the confines of their homes.
Small disclaimer after reading (spoiler alert): I still don’t quite understand what “the man on the roof” has to do with the story line. Apart from being the title of the book, and certain references throughout the book of a shadowy figure atop the roofs of the neighborhood homes, there wasn’t a ton of resolution to the concept. My best guess is that the man on the roof is more symbolic in nature, a figure that theoretically walks atop all our roofs observing the lives taking place behind our four walls and discovering the dirty little secrets held within.
Overall the book held my interest and kept me guessing through its entirety. I wanted to keep reading to find out who was involved in what. But, I thought the book could have been about 100 pages shorter if some of the extraneous “fluff” was cut out and could have made the book move a heck of a lot faster than it did. I’m giving this one 4 stars, and would recommend to anybody who loves a good old fashioned mystery, gets a kick out of reading gossip columns, and doesn’t mind reading something that’s a little on the longer side.
-This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Michael Stephenson for the opportunity to review.-
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