Author: Joan Hall Hovey

Publisher: BWL Publishing

ISBN: 978-1771452151

One great pleasure I have as a reviewer/author is discovering writers who show me new and exciting ways to hold a reader’s interest. Sometimes the writer is a newbie; other times she’s an old hand like Joan Hall Hovey, whose book is the first of hers I’ve read. And then I’m happy to recommend my discovery to other readers.

Taut plotting, great characters, and chilling suspense make this thriller a book you can’t put down. My first read was in two nights. There is no mystery here—well, maybe a small one (see below)—as the tale moves along to its inexorable end: Three prisoners have escaped and they’re going to make Abby Miller’s life more hellish than it already is after losing her husband and daughter in a collision. Their leader, Ken Roach (great name, by the way), has traveled a long distance in leading the deadly trio to Abby’s refuge at Loon Lake. Why so far? What’s his agenda?

Vivid prose imagery allows the reader to create mental scenes comparable to the real life tragedy of that doctor’s family that occurred near Danbury, Connecticut, or to the movies Cape Fear or Deliverance—the author’s prose, in fact, is quite sufficient for me. Phew! In situations like these, survival often depends on quick thinking and luck. The reader will be in suspense right up to the end of the book wondering if Abby has enough of both. Alfred Hitchcock would be smiling.

The villain’s agenda, a bit of a mystery, is defined by coincidence—a bit dangerous in an otherwise intense plot, albeit a twist that can surprise. I’m still debating whether this mystery element was necessary. As close to perfection as this writing is, here and elsewhere I found annoying little imperfections even on my first read-through as a casual reader. Another example can be found where the author seems intent on writing her own spoilers, often in parentheses. “(A thought that would soon be prophetic.)” and “Something she would come to regret in the days ahead.” are examples. This, of course, is a lapse into the omniscient POV, and it’s unnecessary. There are also a few paragraphs where she also mixes characters’ POVs in the same paragraph. There are a few editing lapses too.

I can write these minor criticisms off as my nitpicking or the author’s stylistic conventions, I suppose. The book is really an excellent read. All in all, it exhibits a master’s touch—just make sure your alarm system is on and don’t look out your windows into the dark night while you’re reading. The Roach might be out there!

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