Title: Sometimes People Die
Author: Simon Stephenson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: September 20th 2022
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Finished reading: September 10th 2022
Pages: 368
DNF at 12% (44 pages)

“The notion that a healthcare worker might intentionally harm a patient is therefore a profoundly troubling one.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hanover Square Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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WARNING: looks like it’s unpopular opinion time again!!

Right… I certainly didn’t expect this to happen when I first heard about Sometimes People Die. I don’t read medical thrillers often enough, and the promise of a murder mystery with a medical angle sounded fantastic. I fully expected to have a brilliant time with this story, and it might just have been my fickle reading mood acting up again, but the fact is that somehow Sometimes People Die and me REALLY didn’t get along. I’ll try to explain briefly why below.

First of all, I do have to say that I still find the premise to be intriguing, and the story had a lot of potential. Sadly the story didn’t exactly live up to expectations for me though. True, I’ve seen reviews mention that the second half of the book is a lot stronger, so I might have missed out there, but the fact remains that my struggles were such that I wasn’t able to get even close to that redemption point. I think my main issue was with the writing style and tone, which felt rather pompous and like it was trying too hard to be literary fiction.

The story also read more like a rather dull and slow-paced medical memoir instead of a thriller, with an overdose of medical jargon and no solid plot to speak of. Sometimes People Die is supposed to be a medical thriller, so you do expect those medical terms, but the balance was most definitely lost here. I also wondered what the references to other medical ‘crimes’ added to the story? The lack of a cohesive plot was also a struggle, and then I’m not even talking about the considerably slow pace… The characters likewise felt rather flat and unmemorable.

Again, I’ve seen in other reviews that the second half is supposed to improve considerably as there is more focus on the murder mystery, but for me personally it was too much of a struggle to even get to the allegedly ‘good’ part. I simply clashed horribly with both the writing style and tone, the slow pace and the lack of a proper plot… And it wasn’t the medical thriller I hoped it would be. I seem to be in the minority though, so don’t give up on my account if you think this story is your cup of tea.


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