Friday, January 06, 2017

Rehab Run - Barbra Leslie

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Publisher: Titan Books

Copyright: Barbra Leslie, 2016

ISBN: 978-1783297009

Format: Paperback, 383pp

Genre: Thriller/Humour

Rating: 3/5

Summed up in a few words
Hazardous. Hesitant. Tense. Complex.  

First Impressions
Barbra Leslie has created such a strong, witty and enjoyable main character in the form of Danny Cleary. Cracked pulled me into her world of family, courage and crack fuelled carnage and I thought it was electric, dizzying and a lot of fun. I read Rehab Run almost immediately after Cracked, hoping to get a similar experience but I was a little disappointed with the result. Rehab Run was an interesting read, but I don't think it built on what Cracked had achieved with its style, humour and general tone. I was glad to see the return of some familiar characters as well as being introduced to a new cast of dysfunctional individuals, but I am craving the return of Michael for the third instalment. 

Book Synopsis
Danny Cleary is getting clean. When her twin sister was murdered and her nephews kidnapped, drug-addicted Danny crossed North America with her brother Darren pursuing those responsible - and being pursued. Now she's in rehab in the peace and tranquillity of Nova Scotia; the hardest thing she has smoked is nicotine, and she has taken up running. This was exactly what she needed. Then she finds a human hand in a mailbox and her rural idyll is shattered.

Once again Danny is drawn into a complex underworld of insanity, revenge and murder. She will have to fight to protect her family and uncover the truth.

My Thoughts
With Cracked setting such a high bar for Leslie to beat, Rehab Run was bound to have a few issues. Danny Cleary is in rehab at the request of her family. Danny embraces the regime and is starting to feel the benefit of recovering from a crack cocaine addiction. That is until she finds a severed arm in the mail box during her daily run, with the events of the last book still fresh in her mind, she believes that Michael has come back.

Danny's older brother Lawrence comes to her aid as his best friend Dickie Doyle runs the facility (Rose's Place) that Danny is currently inhabiting in rural Nova Scotia. Investigations start up into who the arm belongs to and Danny is dragged into another complex, larger than life plot that continues to build and escalate until all is revealed. Danny is straight edge now and had been planning to stay that way until several horrifying and unforgettable events start chipping away at her resolve, including having a severed head thrown at her, finding a half eaten corpse and being left for dead. Lawrence is right by her side throughout all the chaos and he is an interesting addition to the overall plot, we got Darren in Cracked, he was more naive and caring, where as Lawrence is more mature, concerned and reserved. 

Lawrence has come to Rose's place not just for Danny, but also Dickie Doyle as their last few communications seemed strange and now Doyle is missing. The plot in Rehab Run is so much smaller and more claustrophobic than Cracked was and it sort of worked, though it did seemed rough and uneven in a lot of places and it was hard to keep track of the developments. There were so many more characters in this story and keeping up with their involvement was hard work. It was good to see Dave again and Barbra Leslie, as always, has such command of her characters, but with so many at once it was hard not to forget a few so quickly.

What I loved about Cracked was that it was big, bold and in your face and there was some of that here but it lacked a proper villain so the plot just steamed ahead with smaller developments attributed to multiple characters. No main villain left the story to putter out with some half-decent reveals but nothing special. I did enjoy the development of a few characters and I am still invested in Danny Cleary and her family, I just felt this book was smaller and a tad more unbalanced than it should have been.

My main issue with Rehab Run was that Danny seemed to be side-lined for so much of the plot. She got involved in several scenarios which left her injured and incapable of comfortably pursuing whoever was performing these atrocities in town. That left her in recovery for a good chunk of the plot, then when she had seemingly recovered she was soon back in hospital with another problem or injury. I really hope Barbra Leslie brings Danny back to her full potential in the third instalment. 

Overall, I enjoyed bits and pieces of the second instalment of this series. I like what Barbra Leslie is doing with the series as a whole but Rehab Run was too sketchy and mismatched for me and having Danny in constant disrepair was frustrating. I would recommend this book to those who have read Cracked  but I have taken the time to warn you here that it may not be what you expect.

Pick up a copy of Rehab Run here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: Barbra Leslie lives and writes in Toronto. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @barbrajleslie

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