I Hope You’re Listening is Tom Ryan‘s tense and suspenseful follow-up to his International Thriller Writers Award-winning Keep This To Yourself. I’d venture to say his latest is not only another award-worthy book, but it represents his best writing yet.
I was privileged to receive a complimentary Advance Reading Copy in exchange for my honest review.
From the publisher:
In her small town, seventeen year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.
At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.
When a new case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to find answers. With the help of her virtual detectives and the interesting new girl at school, Dee is getting closer to the truth — and the danger it brings.
I Hope You’re Listening piggybacks on the rising popularity of true crime podcasts by putting Dee Skinner behind the microphone. Her secret identity as The Seeker allows her to deal with the lingering trauma and survivor’s guilt from returning home after her best friend was abducted without a trace. She takes leads from listeners and helps locate missing people around the country, using her massive audience like a crowdsourced detective agency. Protecting her identity (not even her parents know about her podcast and its success) is paramount, and she steadfastly refuses to investigate Sibby’s abduction. Ryan builds a ton of internal and external conflict into Dee’s relationship to her podcast and its audience. It layers even more tension upon an already fraught situation.
The disappearance of a little girl from Dee’s childhood home brings her past trauma to the surface. Her friend, Burke, helps produce her podcast, and urges her to investigate, but she’s reluctant to explore a case that hits so close to home. The copycat nature of the case draws increased media attention to town — exactly the kind of attention that Dee is looking to avoid.
Dee finds her own attention distracted by the new girl who moved into the house across the street. She and Sarah find themselves increasingly attracted to each other. LBGTQ+ representation is a common theme in Tom Ryan’s novels, and the relationship between Dee and Sarah creates additional emotional complexity to the story.
The driving pace of I Hope You’re Listening leads to an ending that is surprising and in many ways terrifying.
I Hope You’re Listening is Tom Ryan’s best work. The dual-POVs of seven-year-old Dee and seventeen-year-old Dee create tension in the past and present and kept me turning the page. The mysteries themselves were well-crafted with unexpected twists, and the lingering trauma that Dee is living with felt very real. I highly recommend this book.