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Summary

Before the death of his wife, Sean O'Brien makes a promise to her that he has no plans to break until he starts building a new life in an old cabin on a remote stretch of a tropical river in the heart of Florida. It's there that he discovers an injured young woman who whispers a cryptic message into his ear. As she fights for her life, Sean makes a promise to her, but to fulfill it he'll have to end the vow he made to his dead wife, and he'll have to face a criminal mind that has a tap root into his previous life. For O'Brien to begin to live a new life, he must revisit the past, where a brilliant criminal mind lies waiting to write a dark future.

©2009 Tom Lowe (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"A darkly suspenseful, atmospheric thriller. Absolutely relentless. I refuse to believe that this is a first novel. It's just too damned good." (Steve Hamilton, award-winning author of The Lock Artist)
"A False Dawn makes good reading for anyone longing to stumble upon an unpublished John D. MacDonald Florida mystery." (Booklist)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Luanne Ollivier
  • 25-09-15

First in a series

Any additional comments?

A False Dawn is the first book in Tom Lowe's Sean O'Brien series.

O'Brien was a police detective in Detroit, but with the death of his wife, he follows through on a promise he made to her. Quit the force and build a new life. He plans to fix up a cabin on backwater stretch in Florida. And live peacefully. It's a good plan until he discovers a dying young woman who whispers to him just before she dies......Well, once a detective, always a detective. O'Brien immerses himself in the search for who the girl was - and who beat her to death.

Lowe has created a strong, likable character in O'Brien that the listener can root for. I do like that he wasn't always right and made mistakes. There's a wealth of supporting characters. I was intrigued by a mysterious man named Joe Billie who appeared in the first few chapters - and then disappeared until his cameo in the final wrap up. Dave and Nick at the marina were engaging characters. I did find the 'bad guys' a bit cliched. Max the dog was a great addition to the cast.

The plot is ambitious and far reaching and on the dark side. (Fair warning to gentle listeners - there are some graphic scenes and strong language.) I had to suspend disbelief that the FBI would let a retired detective take such a leading role.

The Florida setting was well described and painted vivid mental images.

Listening to an audio book is a different experience than reading the novel. We tend to hear every detail - details we may have glossed over with a printed copy. My peeve was O'Brien's similes - even in stressful situations he's got something to compare. By the end they were simply annoying.

A False Dawn is a good first book and I would listen to another. (There are now five books in the series)

The reader, Michael David Axtell, was quite good. He has a clear, resonant voice with a little gravelly undertone that matched the mental image I had created for the character. He interpreted the book well, matching his inflection to the scenes.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Dawn
  • 05-10-15

A welcome surprise

I can't believe I've never heard of Tom Lowe before. This is my first listen to Lowe and I'm hooked! The main character, Sean O'Brien is a very likable protagonist. The supporting cast, including Max, a cute and lovable dachshund, well round the story. There is plenty of suspense as the mystery unfolds. I look forward to the next book in this series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacqueline
  • 24-09-15

Excellent storyteller!

The narrator is incredibly talented at bringing the individual characters to life! Suspenseful and exciting!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • 07-05-17

Wonderful first novel in the Sean O'Brien series

Two weeks ago I listened to A Murder of Crows, the 8th and most recent release in the Sean O'Brien series, and was so impressed that I purchased the earlier seven novels. A False Dawn is not as good as A Murder of Crows, but it is very close. O'Brien is an ex-cop in Miami who quits after his wife died. In this novel he discovers a dying woman and sets out to catch her killer only to find out the man who murdered her is a serial killer he tried to find when he was a cop. There is lots of action along with suspense and a couple of nice twists. 4.5 stars.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Sleeping in Cleveland
  • 28-06-16

Easy listen

This was a good book kept you guessing what was going to happen. I liked the main character Sean O'nell. Had a bit of witty humor. Will listen to the next one in serious

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 23-09-15

Great Series

I really liked this first book in the Sean O'Brien series, A False Dawn. So far I have listened to the first 3 books and have started on the 4th novel. I have found them to be very interesting mysteries. I have purchased all six novels in this series available to date and have always looked forward to hearing the next one. Sean O'Brien, the main character, is an ex-Miami homicide detective who retired early after his wife died and moved up to the Daytona Beach area. He has a river house inland from the beach but also has a boat that he lives on. He keeps running into murder cases that need to be solved which he can't help but getting totally involved in. You will meet all his colorful boat neighbors and his cute little hotdog mutt, Max. Mr. Lowe is a great writer and Mr. Axtell is a wonderful narrator. All in all I highly recommend this series.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • green ice cream garden
  • 18-05-17

Slow decline from 5 stars

Here's what slowly made me decline my rating of this book:
1) The weakest, most incompetent, female detective I've ever read. She basically swoons over the hero and uses him to solve every bit of this mystery.
2) Sometimes became preachy. Even though I agree with the political undertones, they weren't all that necessary.
3) I've never heard someone refer to A1A (a ONE a) as AIA (a I a). Maybe that was the narrator's fault? But since I'm a Florida native I was more sensitive than most might be about getting the geography right.
I wouldn't let the 3 stars block a recommendation, but choose for a lighter mystery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kat Ferguson
  • 14-03-17

Very good

The only thing I didn't like about this book was how weak the female police officer, Leslie was. She's a cop for christs sake not a florist.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Stobbe
  • 17-08-18

Tom Lowe book

This was my first Tom Lowe book. I enjoyed this book an plan on reading more books written by Lowe. Thought the narration by Michael David Axtell was very good.

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  • Phillip J. Gaskill
  • 09-04-18

Pretty good book so far; mediocre narrator

I'm about 2/3 done with the book as I write this. I just came across the narrator—who is pretty good with accents, at least—not knowing the word "carotid," as in artery: he thinks it's pronounced "carteroid." That's on page 206 of 294 (ch. 57) in the Kindle version. Oh, and a couple of chapters earlier (ch. 54), I noticed his pronunciation of Highway A1A as if it was A-EYE-A. Turns out it's that way in the book, AIA rather than A1A, big mistake by the author; but any self-respecting narrator should KNOW what it is (the major state highway, runs right up the Atlantic coast) and should pronounce it right. Also, earlier there was a totally wrong (but similar) word to what should have been used, but I didn't check it out and now I forget. Could have been spelled right and the narrator blew it, or could have been a mistake by the author. ¶ Oh, well. I'm pretty much liking the story and will give the series at least one more chance before I think about giving up in disgust.