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by Jeff Abbott
Dutton, July 2009
370 pages
ISBN: 0525951210

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Luke Dantry is a graduate student studying the abnormal psychology of members of fringe groups. He has been hired to join chat groups under assumed names and either bait or agree with members. He is providing this information to his step-father who has a think tank dispensing predictions on future terrorist actions to public and private clients.

Suddenly things go horribly wrong. As Luke leaves the airport after dropping his step-father off, a man jams a gun in his side and forces him to drive to Houston. There, while a CCTV camera captures Luke's picture, the kidnapper shoots a homeless man. Finally they drive to a cabin where a woman lies shackled in a bed. The kidnapper substitutes Luke for the woman and leaves.

From this point on, the action is fast and furious. Luke becomes quite competent at defending himself as well as at using his psychological expertise to manipulate his enemies. Many surprises await and the reader can never trust who the good guys, or for that matter, the bad guys are.

Like every thriller, this book requires early and great suspension of disbelief. When I stopped to think about it, I found it most unrealistic that a young untrained graduate student could do what Luke succeeded in doing. Nothing in his background prepared him for the actions he was able to take although his psychological manipulation made a certain sense. But if the reader just closes her eyes and gets on the roller coaster without asking any questions, it is an exciting and breathtaking ride.

The characters are pretty one-dimensional and rarely is there any complexity to their personalities. There is doubt about who is on which side, but the villains as well as the heroes seem to have super-human powers. Motives are not mixed. Hatred and money are pretty popular. Even Luke is not a believable character as he fights evil with no questions or doubts. He is a super-hero who can manage just about anything.

The book is very well written. There is nothing, once the reader surrenders her disbelief, to pull her out of the book, nothing to cause her to stop and wonder, no stumbling or miscues. Abbott's prose is well suited to the exciting story he has to tell. It is not a hopeful story and at the end the reader has to wonder if this kind of plot might be successful. To be honest it is a frightening book and I closed it with many questions in my mind.

Reviewed by Sally A. Fellows, August 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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