Book Review: Down to the Needle by Mary Deal

Why This Book 
After reading a few light-hearted mysteries and non-fiction books, I was in need of a strong thriller and suspense novel. I had Mary Deal’s Down to the Needle in my Kindle downloaded book list, as it was recommended by a friend. I flipped through the summary and overview, which convinced me to give it a try last week; I’m quite glad I did.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
There are several plot lines in this book, but they weave together in multiple ways in a typical small American town called Seaport. The book kicks off with Abi and Joe, mid-40s to early 50s, covering a string of fires occurring across the city. We learn that Abi has been searching for her daughter, whom her husband had kidnapped nearly twenty-three years ago. Joe stumbles onto an ex who disappeared many years ago, but they’ve found solace in one another as he makes plans to get her off the street. Abi and Joe have their own separate careers and homes, but they consider the possibility of future marriage, assuming Abi can find out if her husband is dead or find a way to divorce him. News outlets are covering the upcoming execution of a young inmate named Megan, who was accused of torching a house eight-years earlier that killed a man’s wife and children. Then Abi finds a few clues which lead them to believe Megan could be her long-lost daughter. The book navigates the path they each take separately, and together, to find their pasts, as well as determine if they can build a future together. New eye-witnesses to the fires step forward and more fires occur. A lead on Abi’s missing daughter unfolds and the discovery of what really happened to Joe’s ex take center stage during this journey — all ending with some happy, bittersweet and sad news. Let’s just say… ‘Down to the Needle’ is the perfect title for many reasons.

Approach & Style 
I read the 381-page novel on my iPad through Kindle Reader. It took about 5 hours over a few days; there are 62 chapters, each fairly short and easy to digest. The story is told in third-person POV with a perspective mostly focused on Abi and Joe. The setting is vividly described, bringing a clear picture of everything, including fires, character expressions and thoughts, homeless conditions, prisons and medical illnesses.

Key Thoughts 
One of the best things I enjoyed about this book is the approach Deal takes in evolving the entire story. There are tons of facts and background information that need to be revealed, but it’s moderately paced and deliberately methodical, to the point where you find your eyes bulging as you get a tad frustrated because you can’t wait to see what comes next. It’s full of suspense, keeping you hanging many times – and then a curve ball comes out of nowhere, in a very almost nonchalant way – it shocks you had some of these things just pop up in a realistic way. Some may find that style hard to digest at first, but once you realize you’re on this wild ride, and you really won’t know what will be thrown at you next, you just dive in to see what happens to the hero and heroine(s) in the story – there may be a few heroines, I can’t decide how I feel! You desperately want Abi to find her daughter, have absolutely no belief/trust that Megan could possibly be her daughter, and then you get happily slammed with something that makes you change your mind, over and over again. It’s great… and when you finally learn all that happened, it’s a brilliant evolution and clearly shows the art of a slow-burning build before the fire pops. Deal has strong skills in this area. The story has a little bit of everything and every genre. It is never boring; a few times, you might wonder where it’s going, but you hang on tightly because you know the author has a plan in mind on how to connect it together. It won’t let you down… to the needle.

Mary Deal is an excellent writer, and I am very glad I read this book. I will pick up a copy of her latest novel, The Ka, in the next few months. I enjoy her character development, complex plots, methodical approach to laying out the setting and descriptions, and ability to weave in just enough confusion and red herrings to keep the pages constantly turning. Kudos!

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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