Pages: 427 pages
Finished: June 5, 2010
First Published: 2009 UK (Aug. 3, 2010 CAN)
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Genre: suspense, thriller
Rick Ironwood staggered back from the blow, his trick knee giving out with a pop as his feet twisted sideways in a puddle of grimy engine oil.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Penguin Group (Canada).
Reason for Reading: The summary of this debut book by a resident Canadian had me very interested.
All I can start out with is a big WOW! This is not quite my usual fare of thriller which usually consists of the serial killer variety so I was not prepared for the intense serial-ness of this book. What an incredible story that in truth could happen to anyone. As the book first started off, I was reminded of a popular Hitchcock devise of the innocent man finding himself caught up in the middle of evil doings. These are innocent men, simple men, regular Joe's who have been brought into the spider's lair to play his nasty game. He kidnaps their families and then the men must do exactly as he says, being given missions of increasing moral complexity, or else he will kill the family.
As we enter the book, one man is at the end of his mission and believes that his wife and daughter have been murdered. At the same time another man has been brought into the game with the kidnapping, given the rules and his first mission. Eventually the two men meet and figure out a connection between themselves, thus trying to find a connection between them and the dead or injured, so they can figure out who hates them so much to be doing this, when they have never done anything illegal in their lives before.
This book starts off running and does not stop until the end. The chapters are quite short making this a very easy book to just keep going 'one more chapter' until the wee hours of the night. The fast pace means a lot of action, while this usually means character development suffers, in this case it doesn't. McKenzie has his story revolving around a tight set of events and characters and the backstory up to that point flesh out the characters for us as do the conversations the men have and the moral choices they make as they fulfill their often deadly assignments.
The narrative is for the most part in the present with the two men but ever so occasionally we are briefly taken to the kidnap victims' points of view to understand the terror they are going through and the utmost futility that they may be saved. Then again on even fewer occasions we are shown the evil mastermind's point of view, hear his rantings, and know he is very clever, though he remains a mystery.
An amazingly intense read. Very scary, even though these characters do have a connection with each other, it is not a sinister one and the reader could visualize that some psycho could pick any group of people, possibly including themself, to play his sick and deadly game. This is one that hits home, uncomfortably close. How far would you go to save your family's lives?
Read this one! Americans have the UK title available from a-zon or bookdepository. Otherwise I don't see an upcoming US release in sight as of yet.