Home » Entries posted by BRUCE DESILVA Associated Press

Review: Suspenseful Brad Parks thriller has a crazy premise

Review: Suspenseful Brad Parks thriller has a crazy premise

In “Unthinkable,” the new thriller by Brad Parks, house-husband Nate Lovejoy is presented with an impossible choiceBy BRUCE DESILVA Associated PressJuly 26, 2021, 12:52 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Unthinkable” by Brad Park (Thomas & Mercer)In the opening of “Unthinkable,” Brad Parks’s latest thriller, lawyer turned house-husband Nate Lovejoy awakens in an ornate bedroom hours after being drugged and kidnapped.He is then informed that he is the guest of Vanslow DeGrange, leader of a secret society known as the Praesidium. It seems that DeGrange is able to catch occasional glimpses of the future and has dedicated his life to using that power to prevent major disasters.The latest threat DeGrange has detected is embodied in the person of an ambitious yet idealistic attorney who is suing a coal-fired plant responsible for large numbers of lung cancer cases. If she succeeds, power companies around the world will turn to a new anti-pollution technology that will inadvertently trigger an environmental catastrophe and kill a billion people.The only way this can be averted, DeGrange has divined, is if Nate, and only Nate, shoots her to death. The lawyer in question is Jenny Welker — Nate’s wife.Initially, Nate suspects this is an elaborate plot by the power company and demands that Lorton Rogers, the man who kidnapped him, provide proof of DeGrange’s powers. But when he gets it — in the form of several accurate predictions including the precise time and date of a tornado — Nate is convinced.So what will he do? Will he let a billion people die, or will he shoot the mother of his two children?Parks has taken a risk with this novel. It works only if readers can suspend their disbelief enough to swallow its central premise. Rather than present DeGrange’s power as paranormal, the author offers a pseudo-scientific rational for it that may not satisfy some readers. Those who can accept it are in for a treat.The story is inventive, well written, fast-paced, and filled with twists. And chapters alternating between Nate’s and Jenny’s points of view add depth and tension.———Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

Review: In 'Dead by Dawn,' lawman faces hypothermia, ambush

Review: In 'Dead by Dawn,' lawman faces hypothermia, ambush

In “Dead by Dawn,” Paul Doiron’s 12th tale about Maine Game Warden Mike Bowdich, the hero’s truck runs over a line of metal spikes intended to tear his tires to shreds and crashes through the ice into the Androscoggin RiverBy BRUCE DESILVA Associated PressJune 28, 2021, 4:28 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Dead by Dawn,” by Paul Doiron (Minotaur)As Mike Bowditch leaves a cluster of mobile homes known as “Pill Hill” and steers down a twisting mountain road in the dark, he is driving straight into an ambush.He sees it too late, a line of metal spikes intended to tear his tires to shreds. He hears them burst as his truck topples over a ledge and crashes through the ice into the Androscoggin River.So begins “Dead by Dawn,” the 12th novel in Paul Doiron’s unwaveringly superb series about a courageous, battle-tested Maine game warden.Mike’s first thought as the cabin fills with water is not for himself but for Shadow, his fierce half-dog, half wolf companion locked in a metal cage in back. He manages to free the animal, but when he pulls himself from the truck, the swift current and drags him under the ice.Just when it appears that he is done for, he surfaces in a small area of open water and hauls himself to land. But his ordeal has just begun. It is the dead of winter, the ground thick with snow. He is in the middle of nowhere with no matches to start a fire. He is soaked to his bones, and hypothermia is setting in.When it looks like things couldn’t get worse, a bullet finds his leg. He is being hunted.What follows are two compelling, alternating narratives. In a series of flashbacks, we learn the events that led to the ambush as Mike tries to uncover the truth behind a cold-case murder. In the other, he fights for his life in a wilderness survival story as compelling Jack London’s classic short story, “To Build a Fire.”Doiron draws on both meticulous research and his own wilderness experiences in Maine to give the struggle an unmistakable feeling of authenticity. And as always in a Bowditch novel, the prose is as sharp as an arrow and so lyrical that it sometimes borders on poetry.———Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

Review: 'Survive the Night' is a fast-paced, twisty thriller

Review: 'Survive the Night' is a fast-paced, twisty thriller

In “Survive the Night,” a depressed college student whose best friend has been killed by a serial killer accepts a ride home from a strangerBy BRUCE DESILVA Associated PressJune 28, 2021, 3:19 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“Survive the Night,” by Riley Sager (Dutton)Confused and depressed Charlie can’t bear to stay at Olyphant University anymore — not since her best friend was stabbed to death by a serial murderer known as the Campus Killer. So she drops out, packs up her stuff, kisses her college boyfriend goodbye, and puts a ride share request on the school bulletin board.That leads her to Josh, a somewhat older guy who says he is going her way. Charlie is unsure if she can trust him, but her need to get away is so strong that she gets into his car for the long drive from New Jersey to Ohio.For a thriller that starts off with two strikes against it, Riley Sager’s “Survive the Night” turns out to be a first-rate read. The strikes? First, Sager asks readers to believe that a young woman obsessed with her roommate’s murder would get into a car with a stranger. Second, a young woman stuck in a car with scary stranger is an overused trope of crime fiction. We’ve seen this movie before.That may be so, Sager seems to be telling us, but you haven’t seen anybody do it like this.The author (Riley Sager is a penname for New England author Todd Ritter) spins his yarn at a frantic pace. A sense of dread arrives the moment Charlie enters the car and never stops building. And the twists, few of which readers are likely to see coming, arrive in such abundance that they are head-spinning.From moment to moment, neither Charlie nor the reader is ever sure how much danger she is in or whether Josh (if that is his real name), or perhaps someone else, is the person to be feared.Compounding the problem is that Charlie, from whose point of view the story is told, has a tenuous grip on reality. A movie major, she is prone to sudden waking hallucinations that usually take the form of scenes from the noir films she loves. To stop them, she was prescribed some medication, but she stopped taking it. As a result, neither she nor the reader can be certain which events in the narrative are real.The tale comes to a violent conclusion, or at least so it seemed. But then, with four final pages, Sager reveals a final surprise that is stunning yet somehow feels exactly right.———Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

Review: 'A Distant Grave' is a complex and lyrical thriller

Review: 'A Distant Grave' is a complex and lyrical thriller

In “A Distant Grave,” an Irish national is found shot to death on a Long Island beachBy BRUCE DESILVA Associated PressJune 22, 2021, 7:51 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article“A Distant Grave,” by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Minotaur)Homicide detective Maggie D’arcy has been hoping to heat up a cross-Atlantic romance with her sweetheart, Conor Kearney, but after a body turns up on Long Island beach, her trip to Ireland appears to be off.When the murder victim turns out to be Gabriel Treacy, a Dublin resident who had just arrived in America, however, she flies to the Emerald Isle to combine business with pleasure. As the investigation heats up, she finds scant time for the latter.The indomitable D’arcy, introduced by author Sarah Stewart Taylor last year in the critically acclaimed “Mountains Wild,” soon finds herself entangled in a case with threads that stretch from Long Island and Ireland to Italy and war-torn Afghanistan.Treacy, it turns out, was an aid worker who once had been kidnapped, and subsequently rescued, in Afghanistan. And recently, he had been looking for a long-lost brother who had been torn from his family during Ireland’s stolen babies scandal. Could either, or perhaps both, explain why he had come to America? Could either involve motives for his murder?Meanwhile, powerful Suffolk County DA John J. Cooney, insistent that the murder was just a gang-related robbery gone bad, pressures D’arcy to return to Long Island.As she persists in following her lines of investigation, however, several others involved in either the stolen babies scandal or the kidnapping die from a mysterious killer’s bullets. Eventually, she realizes her own life is in danger.The result is a fast-paced, tension-filled yarn filled with twists the reader is unlikely to see coming. Taylor tells the story in a lyrical prose style that is a joy to read. She excels in vividly portraying both the rural Ireland and Long Island settings and in developing memorable characters including D’arcy’s partner, Dave Milich, and her troubled daughter, Lilly.The only off note is occasional references to events in “The Mountain Wild” that are difficult for readers to fathom unless they have read the first book in the series.———Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”