This one has been a long time coming, and I’m excited to finally get to share my thoughts with you. As I’ve made abundantly clear, Patrick J. O’Brian is one of my favorite authors and biggest inspirations. He’s also the most prolific writer I know, having almost twenty book credits to his name. I’ve read most of them, but hold his West Baden Murders Series in high regard. This is the series that introduced me to O’Brian, leading me to his other works.
So with that, it only seems fitting that I write a recap of my experience with the most recent entry into the series. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that The Doomsday Clock (West Baden Murders Series Book 6) is a lengthy read and covers a lot of story line. There are a wealth of characters, spanning across several of O’Brian’s other books and series. The West Baden Springs Hotel takes a backseat in this entry, as the story bounces from French Lick, Indiana, to the Bering Sea, the Kentucky Derby, and eastern New England.
The length of the book made it tricky for me to fully immerse myself in, but I think more of that problem was due to my reading pace. Between my family, work, my own writing, and helping other writers with editing requests, my remaining time to read is minimal. With all of those distractions and time commitments, I wasn’t able to tear through this book like I typically would. With my slow pace, and the overall length of this novel (456 pages), it was more difficult than normal for me to get into. (Again, that’s more of a me issue than a book issue.)
The roster of characters was something that surprised me, and got me really excited about this story. Going into this book, I had no idea there were crossover elements with O’Brian’s other books (**SPOILER ALERT – there are crossover elements**), but bringing all of it together was a great surprise. The sheer number of characters could be daunting, but O’Brian was masterful at making sure they didn’t bleed together and that they all had their own distinct identities and story arcs. It’s also interesting to see how all these characters interact with each other. It would be very easy to have them all come together and work as one toward a common goal, but real life isn’t always that clean and easy. O’Brian does a great job of involving each character’s personality and apprehensions toward one another.
The story itself is an interesting one. This series started out as a pretty straight-forward murder mystery with elements of slasher-type horror. Somewhere around book three (Sins of the Father), it introduced some intriguing paranormal themes. The Doomsday Clock certainly builds on those paranormal ideas, delving deeper into a set of cursed cubes that the main group of characters is hell-bent on retrieving and protecting at all costs. That cost turns out to be pretty steep, but I won’t spoil too much here. I will strongly encourage you to read the alternate ending though. Personally, I would have voted for the alternate to be the actual ending, but I also tend to make weird decisions, so there’s that.
All in all, O’Brian is successful yet again at digging deeper into a crazy world set in a tiny, unassuming area in southern Indiana. Seeing how he weaves the characters from multiple series into the same plot, all with their own motives and conflicts, really drives the story. I give this one 11 cursed objects out of 13.
Now on to the next book in my to-read pile: O’Brian’s most recent release, Uncertain Terms.