Nebraskan suspense author Kava takes a break from her successful series featuring FBI Special Agent Maggie O'Dell with this psychological thriller about the fallout from an abortive bank robbery. The principal players are Jared Barnett, just released by his shady attorney's machinations from a life sentence for murder; his docile sister, Melanie Starks; and her 17-year-old son, Charlie, to whom Jared is a father figure. Just as their lives seem to be approaching normalcy, Jared scopes out a bank heist and bullies his sister and nephew into helping him. Mel is designated driver in the high-risk chase that begins right after Jared and Charlie, empty-handed, flee the bank. In a remote state park cabin, Andrew Kane, a writer, happens to be alone when they appear and Mel, shocked, learns from his TV that four people were killed in the holdup. Then she remembers the childhood that she and Jared were cheated out of—a mother who washed down pills with vodka while their father mercilessly beat the children until Jared took matters into his own hands. Victims accumulate as fast as the escape route changes, while abbreviated chapters and truncated dialogue signal the approaching explosive climax. This is a one-night read with some unexplained loose ends that won't bother readers hooked on hair-raising car chases and gruesome murder scenes.
I had only read Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell books before I decided to try this one. I found this one to be a very different type of story but also very enjoyable.
The story opens with a convicted criminal, Jared Barnett, being freed from prison on a technicality. The cops, the DA, his lawyer, everyone knows he is guilty but since the case against him is dismissed he walks out. The story follows Jared moves from then on, killing the man, whose testimony had put him behind bars, harassing the DA who prosecuted him and finally planning and executing a bank robbery with the help of his sister and nephew.
We know all this because the story follows the criminal’s actions most of the time. The police are in the dark, first about who has been robbing some neighbourhood stores and then who committed the bank robbery. So at the same time that we see Jared take hostages, kill everyone who gets in his ways and change cars to elude the police force we also see the detectives putting two and two together to try to identify the murderers and the victims and understand what really happened.
From the beginning it is fairly obvious that there is some obscure deal between Jared and his lowlife attorney, what that deal was will lead to the unraveling of the mystery but that we only find out in the end, where Kava doesn't resist adding an unexpected twist.
I did like the sense of suspense, the fast paced action and how she slowly provides the clues to solve the final puzzle. While I do prefer the Maggie O'Dell stories I found this one an interesting read and was fascinated by the fact that two real events where the basis for this plot.