This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.
This author has more pen names than I have fingers on two hands: David Axton, Brian Coffey, Deanna Dwyer, KR Dwyer, John Hill, Dean Koontz, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Richard Paige, Owen West, and Aaron Wolfe. I honestly couldn't remember reading anything by him prior to this, but checking in my blog revealed two previous stories, neither of which I liked! One was an audiobook ( The Face of Fear) about a slasher serial killer going after women. This was recommended by a friend, but is quite simply not my cup of tea. My eyes glaze over when I see a serial killer novel in my daily book bargain flyer, because this genre has been so done to death. That particular novel was especially objectionable because it was in audiobook form and read by Patrick Lawler, who I honestly cannot stand as a book reader. The novel of this author's that I read was a graphic novel version of some Frankenstein-based story, and I did not like that one either.
Had I remembered either of those, then I would not have requested this one, which is not to be confused with The Crooked Staircase by Victor Gunn, so the lack of any lasting impression made by these other books had led me to think this was the first of his I'd read. I'm not sure why this one was more appealing to me initially. It's not like it was perfect, but there was intrigue and action, and nothing completely dumb to begin with, so that made a difference, but there were parts which were stretched a little too far in my opinion. I stayed with this as far as I could, but in the end it simply could not hold my interest, so I gave up on it about one third the way through. I couldn't face reading any more of it, the way it was going - or failing to go!
There's this Indian (not native American) brother and sister who live in a really nice house out in the boonies. One night when the sister is standing outside watching the rain, she sees an SUV drive up and three guys climb out, scale the gate to the property and head into the house. Knowing this can't be a good thing, she sneaks back into the house where her brother is, and she gets some hornet killer spray and disables the guys with it by spraying it into their faces. So far so good, but instead of calling the cops at that point, the two of them go on the run! There is no sensible explanation given for this behavior, so this was my first problem.
One of the guys in the trio invading the home was from the sheriff's department - the girl recognized him. If he was a police officer, then why sneak up? Why not simply go knock on the door (or ask for admittance through the gate in this case) like he was on official business, and then when the door was opened, force their way in? Anyway, the girl disables all three of them with the hornet spray, which was pretty cool, but instead of taking their guns and tying them up (or even handcuffing them, if the sheriff had cuffs on him), and calling the police, the brother and sister go on the lam! These characters are both authors and they have zero imagination, so this felt really inauthentic to me, not to say lame. This is a serious problem with Big Publishing™ and an author who garners a certain level fo success: the editors don't know when (or maybe how) to say no!
If these two feared the police might be compromised because of the sheriff's presence, they could have called the FBI or something. These two were not criminals and not dumb people. They had no idea why the sheriff had shown-up with some heavies and some chemical, and needles like maybe it was for an interrogation. All the siblings had had to do was call the cops. OTOH, if the author actually wanted them to run (and int his case it seems he didn't), then he needed to supply a more convincing reason than was on offer here. I was willing to let that slide, but the whole thing slid too far downhill for me in the end.
There's a second story running in parallel with this one, in which this woman, who is evidently scared of something given her exhaustive security precautions, arrives home to find a woman already in the house waiting for her. This visiting woman, who goes by Jane, isn't a threat and is apparently going after the first woman's ex-husband (a man who had treated her brutally to get what he wanted). The visiting woman is an ex-FBI agent who is living off the grid and has her own personal vendetta against this man.
It sounded like a great start to the story, but the problem was that the author rambles way too much for my taste and for an action story. There were too many asides, too many details, and too many wasted pages. At one point there are two guys trying to track the Indian pair down, and this goes on and on and endlessly on, and it became tedious to read, especially since it was obvious where it was going. I couldn't help but wonder why there was all this padding when the end result was the same. The same thing happened in the parallel story with the main character getting into a boring conversation with this young woman who she encountered in a house where she was trying to get to the house-owner.
In the end I was beaten by sheer boredom waiting for the real story to begin, This felt like one long prologue, and I don't do prologues. I wasn't about to spend any more time on a 340 page novel when it was this uninspiring in the first hundred pages, and especially with such an improbable plot. Based on what I read, I cannot recommend this.