Skip to content

He Started It by Samantha Downing #BookReview

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory, a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

Book cover for He Started It by Samantha Downing

Title: He Started It | Author: Samantha Downing | Publisher: Berkley | Pub. Date: 21 July 2020 | Pages: 395 | ASIN: B07XJL1YSM | Genre: Thriller | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred Review

Page break indicator for Sci-Fi & Scary

He Started It Review

In the spring of 2019 Samantha Downing published “My Lovely Wife”, the cover grabbed my eye, I grabbed the book, and it was great.  Her debut novel is one of my favorites over the last several years. How do people do this out of the gate? One thing I recall at the time was how the first chapter seemed to be almost perfect in tone and pacing, setting the hook deep for the rest of the book.

Well, in July, her second book, “He Started It”, came out and this is my review.  Again, the first chapter knocked it out of the park. This is becoming an infuriating habit!

The plot is a lot closer than her first work, with two tales of a long cross-country road trip spanning 20 years interleaved and much of the time spent in cars. While the drives wander in an unfocused manner there isn’t a lot of time for characters to really develop, mostly what I think we see is a slow peeling of the onions. None the less the main character manages to provide a rather big reveal from the peeling and character development by the end.

Lots of twisty turns show up as we drive along down the road.  Who is the hero the main character asks early on, and you will definitely have an answer in mind pretty quickly. But even with that, I thought there were a couple of ways the ending could go and I didn’t consider the right one.

So. The writing is tight and professional.  The plot grabbed me and kept things moving along, though in this area perhaps a notch short of the mark Ms. Downing set in her first published novel. And I thought the characters were authentic and frighteningly believable.  Bravo.

There are only two slight failings I would recognize in this work.  First the title. I can fit an explanation but it doesn’t seem great to me, though I’m probably just missing the connection.  Not much of a failing there.  Second, it turns out this is her twenty-second book! The first twenty were never submitted anywhere. I feel hoodwinked but can better swallow the craftmanship she’s shown out of the publishing gate knowing that.

This is a thriller, as was her first work, a *bit* afield from what we usually review here.  But if you find the blurb interesting at all I suspect you will really enjoy her work.

You can find links to pre-order through its Goodreads page. After September 8th, we highly encourage you to order the book through Better World Books if possible, as they donate book-per-book to literacy programs.


discussion of child abuse, kidnapping

Published inStarred ReviewsThriller Book ReviewsUncategorized
©Sci-Fi & Scary 2019
%d bloggers like this: