“It all started when I saw myself dead.” That’s how the Rose Gardner Mysteries began in Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes. How could it possibly end well for Rose Gardner and her cohorts? It’s not easy to write a review for such a phenomenal story without revealing spoilers, but I’m going to do my best. I was given the task of summing up this final installment with one word: explosive.
Denise Grover Swank is at the top of her game in Thirty-Six and a Half Motives. She holds nothing back, makes some bold decisions, and by the end the fallout is unavoidable. You get the finish every character deserves in the JR Simmons saga that has ruined so many lives. All the dirty secrets and lies come to a head in one heck of a finale.
Plans explode. Relationships explode. There’s even literal explosions. Every character’s true colors shine through. While you don’t get answers to everything, there are answers for:
Mason’s relationship with Rose
The identity of Rose’s father
Kate’s real reason for pestering everyone in Fenton County
Why Hilary Wilder would follow Joe Simmons to the end of the world
JR Simmons’ endgame
The identity of Anna and what role she plays in the bigger picture
…and much more!
I normally give some sort of “MVP” of the book, but in this instance everyone who mattered was most valuable. Skeeter Malcolm is swoon worthy. Jed Carlisle is one heck of a fearless protector. Joe Simmons is the guy you always want at your back. Mason is the boyfriend everyone wishes they could have. Neely Kate is the bestest of the best friends a girl could ever hope for. Maeve Deveraux is the mother all of these characters have been missing from their lives.
The pacing is fast. I read the entire book in a handful of hours. There’s even a fair share of surprises that I’m not going to reveal here. I’m keeping this spoiler-free after all! Let me just say that I laughed, cried, and was left in shock MANY times throughout this 117K word masterpiece.
One of my favorite quotes expresses just how I feel about the Rose Gardner Mysteries and Denise Grover Swank’s writing as a whole: “She’s taught me life is meaningless without people to share it with.” I want to share this book with the world. Where can a story like this end? You’ll just have to read it for yourself.