Verdict: IF IT BLOWS THREE DAYS is at times a gripping thriller; at others an over-long and slightly overdone novel. With a strong editor and the cutting of 100 pages, this could have been a breathtaking page turner. Instead, it’s a competent, but drawn out affair, with a few shining moments.
IF IT BLOWS THREE DAYS is essentially a slow-paced murder mystery with a key twist. Initially a heavy drinker, Rob Wheat doesn’t recall how the death of a character who’s a bit of a ‘frenemy’ took place. Did he witness the death? Could he even have killed the man himself? If not, who did?
Wheat’s journey is one of mixed up connections and comprehension difficulties, but also one of developing understanding and personal growth. He doesn’t entirely trust his own mind post stroke, and he has mixed feelings about those around him. In fact, it probably makes more sense to trust a stranger: no ulterior motivations, no likely involvement.
Rob slowly works things out. Perhaps too slowly. Flowing from beach-side life to a surreal setting amid a battle re-enactment–and eventually to a devastating and brooding storm–the story does feel a little like the gist of it could have been told in a text half the size. There’s a lot of unnecessary and slightly tedious detail, not helped by enough editing oversights and grammatical errors to be a bit of a distraction.
The cleverness of the concept does make up for those distractions to some extent. It comes out in the difficulties the character has in walking any distance, in his struggles in making certain connections in his mind, and in how his physical capabilities seem to slowly develop in line with purposeful exercise and forced endeavor. His relationship with Amelia, met by chance, feels oddly developed, yet emotionally real.
The Gettysburg re-enactment section–a good third of the book–stands out as the novel’s high point. Impressive in both its historical and geographical detail, it utilizes its scenery, has some fantastically dark undertones, and brings a faster pace to the plot development. By contrast, the fretting deluge scenes in the closing section–a kind of ‘perfect storm’ scenario–feel a bit forced and coincidental, dragging on as the plot meanders and plods in the background. Things do come to a head, and you’ll want to hear the book out having come this far, but there are entire passages that add very little to proceedings.
That’s not to say this isn’t an entertaining read: it’s easy to pan certain sections of the book as they sit in such stark contrast to the parts that really connect, where you feel like the author is an expert on the aftermath of a stroke, able to extract the consequences on the brain into a broader scenario and play on the important little details.
IF IT BLOWS THREE DAYS is at times a gripping thriller; at others an over-long and slightly overdone novel. With a strong editor and the cutting of 100 pages, this could have been a breathtaking page turner. Instead, it’s a competent, but drawn out affair, with a few shining moments.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader