Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Trade, 295 pages, 2007
Reason for Reading: I like to load up on thrillers in the summer.
Synopsis: A note dropped on a table in a café right before it explodes saves the life of medical journalist Nat Idle – a note that he’s convinced features the handwriting of his dead girlfriend, a woman who was at the top of her career in Silicon Valley. Nat has a lot to piece together – a bomb that almost killed him, a dead girlfriend who may be alive, and enough corruption and deceit for him to question his sanity…
Why you should read this book: Richtel has managed to pull together two things to make an intense psychological thriller: a fear of the future (technology used for evil) and the emotional connection to a true love of the past (is she really dead? If not, how could she have left me?). The result is a book that will have you racing from page to page, afraid to trust anyone as each chapter reveals something shocking or raises another question. Richtel also uses a lot of humour and has a smart writing style, so you can be sure to enjoy a good summer read with minimal guilt over a so-called guilty pleasure.
Why you should avoid this book: With some of the action scenes there was too much of a ‘been there, done that’ – practically word for word – feeling. The creativity with physical scenes need to be on par with the passages about the psychological suspense.
I’m guessing that the moment that your life begins to unravel is often unceremonious – heralded by a whimper. The bang should have told me something.
There was a picture of Erin. She appeared, not surprisingly, frazzled. She was thirty-three and pretty, maybe beautiful. Even in two dimensions, she had eyes that conveyed kindness and depth.
I felt a surge of adrenaline return. My legs twitched and I bit the inside of my cheek so hard that I winced. With an unsteady index finger, I drew an imaginary circle around Erin.
I looked at her eyes. Had she seen the woman who handed me the note in the café?
Two months after that, I went to an oyster bar with Rochelle, a piano teacher when she wasn’t doing public relations for the local cable company. She was thirty-two, but the important number was her blood alcohol content, and mine. She plied us both with booze, we made small talk. One segue led to another that led to her apartment.
I’d never bothered to consider bringing a condom. I took the one offered from her bedside drawer with a feeling of inevitability. Afterward, she went into the bathroom to freshen up, and I wiped away a tear. Three months after Annie died, I thought, and I’m in purgatory, fighting back tears while some woman’s tabby cat sniffs the bottom of my still-socked feet.
Also recommended: The Blue Nowhere by Jeffery Deaver; Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith; The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer.
Also by this author: Hooked is Richtel’s first novel.
Author’s website: mattrichtel.com
Fun tidbit: Richtel writes the syndicated daily comic strip Rudy Park under the pen name Theron Heir.
Would I read more by this author? Maybe – the action scenes need to hold their own against the comedy for Richtel to really stand out in the crowd of suspense/thriller authors.
© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2008