Book Review: Limetown (A Novel) created by Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie with Cote Smith

Limetown is a mystery novel based upon the #1 podcast created by Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie. The book, written by Cote Smith, acts as a prequel to the podcast that has seemingly captured the attention of many, many listeners.

The story of Limetown is complex. Three hundred individuals have disappeared from a research facility in Limetown, Tennessee. Since the facility was isolated and remote, little is known about what took place that caused the disappearances of the men, women, and children who lived there. The story revolves around Lia Haddock who has become entranced with town's history and the mystery associated. Fueled by her family's connection to the town (her uncle Emile Haddock disappeared in Limetown) and the refusal of her parents to discuss the disappearance, Lia is left to discover her own truth of what happened. This truth comes at a cost too big for Lea to truly understand.

Limetown (the prequel novel) is a thrilling read that leaves readers with a better understanding of the characters from the podcast. The story alternates between the third-person viewpoints of Lia and Emile Haddock. Most chapters end on a cliff hanger providing an impetus to keep reading. I found myself putting the book down for only a few minutes before returning to search for answers to my questions. Likewise, as soon as the answer was found, another question was formed.

The novel has a Roanoke vibe and often harkens to other events shrouded in mystery. Lia's family history is obscured as she is constantly seeking answers complicated questions. Her role as a [junior] researcher helps readers come to terms with her larger-than-life interviewing skills and which seem to be beyond her age. The coincidence of finding the right person for information is too convenient at times and Lia often runs into the right source without finding dead ends. Several instances where she feels she has found a dead end give fodder to the possibility of an answer, and several characters play a larger role than initially perceived or rationalized by the text.

I found myself preferring the chapters about Emile more than those about Lia. His characterization is much more complex and profound. His ability to read other characters is a skill readers become acquainted with at the beginning of the book, and his interactions with other individuals are affected by this skill. I found myself wanting to know more once his chapters ended and was flashed forward to Lia's perspective.

I enjoy how psychology and scientific discovery play a key role in the story. The idea of research facility gone awry is exciting and leads to the possibility of the extraordinary. Limetown does not disappoint with characters showcasing super-human talents and phenomena beyond explanation. I would love to go into further detail, but with the popularity of the podcast and novel, I do not want to give away the secrets of Limetown and its [former?] inhabitants.

The biggest concern I have with the novel is time and continuity. I am not sure how the story fits together with the podcast without questioning characterization. For example, Lia and Lia's parents end the novel with panic and isolation whereas, at the beginning of the podcast, all characters are calm. Likewise, Lia is cognizant of more in the book than in the podcast. According to the book, she knows the answers to many of the questions she seeks in the podcast. Don't get me wrong, I like them both, but the confusion detracts from my enjoyment of the podcast and novel belonging to the same story. Both are created to stand alone, but each format leaves readers seeking answers to questions.

I would recommend Limetown (book and/or podcast) to anyone who loves mystery and suspense. I enjoyed the allusions to Jonestown and Roanoke throughout the novel and often stopped reading to listen to the podcast and vice versa. Overall, I would recommend to fans of Dan Brown and Stephen King because of the thrilling nature of the story paralleling psychological discovery and thrilling situations.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2