Review: The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

Title: The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Penguin’s First to Read Program


In a new novel from New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon, a suburban family is rocked in the wake of a terrorist attack on American soil.

On a typical late summer day, Julia Swann is on the phone with her husband, Michael, when the call abruptly goes dead. Then the news rolls in: A bomb has gone off at Penn Station, where Michael was waiting for a train home. New York City is in a state of chaos.

A frantic Julia races to the city to look for Michael, her panic interwoven with memories of meeting and falling in love with the husband she’s now desperate to find. When someone finds a flier she’s posted and tells her they may have seen her husband, her dreams seem to be answered. Yet as she tries to find him, her calls go unanswered.

Weaving between the aftermath of the explosion and Julia’s memories of her life with Michael, new developments raise troubling questions. Did Michael survive the explosion? Why hasn’t he contacted her? What was he doing when their last call was cut off? Was he–or is he still–the man she fell in love with?

Part family drama, part tragic love story, and part disaster narrative that hits terrifyingly close to home, The Real Michael Swann is a deftly plotted suspense novel with an unflinching portrait of a marriage at its heart, challenging us to confront the unthinkable–both in our country and in our own home


The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon is a tautly plotted, fast-paced and suspenseful novel.

Julia Swann is not overly concerned about the fact that her husband Michael’s train from New York’s Penn Station has been delayed.  She is, however, mildly worried when their phone call abruptly ends and she cannot get through to him. Panic sets in with the tragic announcement that a bomb has gone off in Penn Station. Unable to wait at home for news about Michael’s fate, Julia sets off in search of her husband.

The investigation into the bombing moves at a rapid pace and the stunning announcemnt that Michael is Homeland Security’s chief suspect in the bombing sends shock waves through Julia’s family and their neighbors. Her certainty in his innocence slightly wavers as her recollections of her husband’s behavior throughout their courtship and marriage are tested by recent memories of his drastically altered behavior and opinions.  Could Michael’s desperation have driven him to such an uncharacteristic act of domestic terrorism?

As Julia frantically tries to locate Michael, a survivor of the blast whose memories are lost due to a head wound feels disconnected from the seemingly irrefutable evidence of his identity.  Driven by an inexplicable instinct to immediately leave Penn Station, he wanders around the city in a daze. He is desperate to return to the address found on the driver’s license he finds inside his briefcase and he soon sets off on his journey home. Despite his lack of memories, intuition leads him to avoid public scrutiny once he becomes aware Michael Swann is wanted in connection with the bombing.

Despite Homeland Security’s best efforts to convince Julia of Michael’s guilt, she remains steadfast in her belief in his innocence. With the help of her mother, Julia anxiously escapes from the agents trying to use her to lure Michael to them.  Thanks to the extensive media coverage, she has a general idea of his whereabouts and she recklessly tries to reach him before Homeland Security captures him. Will Julia find Michael before the authorities take him into custody?

The Real Michael Swann is an electrifying novel that could easily have been ripped from today’s headlines. Julia is a complex, well-developed lead protagonist whose faith in her husband’s innocence is nearly unshakable. Although savvy readers will most likely have a good idea what awaits Julia as she hurdles toward finding Michael before Homeland Security, Bryan Reardon brings the novel to a pulse-pounding, tension-filled conclusion that is full of clever plot twists.

1 Comment

Filed under Bryan Reardon, Contemporary, Dutton, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Real Michael Swann

One Response to Review: The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for the review Kathy