Content warning Major plot point
There's nothing inherently wrong with "The Corpse Flower" but at the same time, there's also nothing really new or exciting about Hancock's novel. The writing style itself is mostly fast-paced, and I didn't feel bored along the way. So in terms of keeping me glued to the pages, it did what a thriller is supposed to do.
But once I reached the end, I closed the book and was done with it. No excitement, no "WOW" effect lingering on and keeping me awake that night. And for me at least, the reason is the superficial treatment of the antagonist character. I had bought the book spontaneously because the blurb promised some kind of cat-and-mouse game between a journalist and a killer, both of them women (more of this, please!). However, as it turned out, it was mostly a cryptic exchange via letters and then via phone that served no real purpose other than delaying the inevitable reveal of the killer's motive. And that reveal was disappointing because – [spoiler coming up]
– once again, we have a female character who's defined solely by the sexual abuse she had to endure in the past. Now, this isn't meant to downplay the traumatic nature of such abuse, but there is nothing else to this character. She just wants revenge and then live the rest of her life in hiding with the help of a superrich childhood friend. She's written in a shallow way and just used as prop to keep the story going for a while. And the cryptic approach she chooses to get what she wants doesn't really make that much sense when you really think about it.
Furthermore, the protagonist herself isn't all that interesting either and, to a certain extent, she's also defined by her connection to the sexual abuse plot point. But this story could've been so much more. There are glimpses of the potential when both women finally meet and do a whole lot of talking (it's a long info dump, but given the nature of the sexual abuse, I can see why the author chose to ignore the usual "show, don't tell" advice). The protagonist takes the position that vigilante justice is always bad, even if someone did something really awful to you. The antagonist disagrees, of course. The sexual trauma that was inflicted on her gives her the right to kill the perpetrators in cold blood, so she says. This would make for a fantastic conflict between these two characters, and this kind of moral dilemma certainly could've given readers food for thought long after they finished the story. But it's rarely relevant until late in the book, and then these issues aren't explored further.
At the end of the day, this was a somewhat entertaining thriller but its plot and the delayed revelations all felt rather forced. It's not a story that leaves me satisfied. And sadly, it's also not a story that leaves me yearning for more from this series.