He Will Be My Ruin – K.A. Tucker [Review]

cover of he will be my ruin

He Will Be My Ruin is a standalone novel by K.A. Tucker.

This novel was published in 2016 by Atria Books.

The book is written in present tense, first person. It is set in New York City.

I read He Will Be My Ruin because I received a hardcover ARC for a tour.

This review is a repost from our old blog.

  A woman who almost had it all . . .

On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?

A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .

Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.

Until he became her ruin. 

Blurb from Goodreads

Jen’s Review of HE WILL BE MY RUIN

He Will Be My Ruin is a fast-paced, detailed novel about a woman named Maggie who is determined to prove her best friend, Celine, didn’t commit suicide. Not only did Celine have big plans for her life, she also had a dying mother whom Celine would not abandon. Maggie finds a picture of a naked man, on which Celine wrote a note about him being her ruin. Maggie is sure that the man in the picture had something to do with Celine’s death. While investigating and working on cleaning out Celine’s apartment, Maggie gets sexually involved with the building’s superintendent.

The best aspect of He Will Be My Ruin is the in-depth characterization. The author made each character come alive through their backstories, mannerisms, and dialogue. K.A. Tucker was able to do this without slowing the pace of the story. I never felt like I was being preached to or given a history lesson. The character details were worked in seamlessly, as were the setting details, which were also vivid and clear.

The worst aspect, in my opinion, was the way the story was presented. I was not a huge fan of the first person used with alternating points of view, particularly because one of the points of view was a dead woman. What made that worse was that it was written in present tense. How could it be occurring in the present if the person isn’t alive and we know by the content that it happened in the past?

I think the story would have been much better if the author had left out Celine’s point of view. Like I said, she’s dead, so she can’t be giving a first person account of events. Plus, seeing things from her point of view took away some of the mystery. I would have liked it better to find out things when Maggie found them out, not learn them ahead of time through a first-person account from a dead woman.

Another problem with the way it was presented was the flashforward in the prologue. I felt this gave too much away. The whole time I was reading the book, I was thinking that Maggie was on the wrong track, because it pretty much said so in the prologue. So, even when she redirects her focus and thinks she was on the right track, I knew she wasn’t.

He Will Be My Ruin is definitely more of a mystery than a thriller. I see mysteries as having an overarching question of who did it?, whereas thrillers have an overarching question of how will the character survive? In this book, the main character is not in danger until near the end. The focus is definitely on who killed Celine. So, if you are expecting a book where you are on the edge of your seat, worried about the well-being of the main character, then this isn’t the book for you.

I’m not sure why I have seen it listed in so many places as a thriller when it isn’t. Even the blurb of the book is misleading about the genre. And much of the praise I have seen for this book seems completely off-target like they didn’t actually read it. It wasn’t “pulse pounding” or “heart stopping” until the last fourth of the book. That doesn’t make it a thriller.

If you know that going into reading this book, and you are a person who likes to try to figure out who-dun-it, then you will probably enjoy reading He Will Be My Ruin. Although I felt some things were given away as a result of the way in which the story was told, I did think the author did a good job of keeping me guessing. It has plenty of red herrings and twists to keep a reader guessing. It’s a solid mystery; it’s just not a thriller as so many sources have claimed.

Despite my complaints, I did enjoy reading He Will Be Ruin. I give it four stars (B) for the fast pace, strong characterization, and excellent use of literary devices to keep the reader guessing.

My Rating: 

4 out of 5 stars (B)

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About Jen Schaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).
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