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Saturday, June 10, 2017


4 stars out of 5

Easy to read and enjoyable, this is one I'd pick to take with me to the beach or on vacation. It's got enough of the chill factor to keep me near the edge of my chair without scaring me out of my wits. Recently separated from her husband and with a small daughter named Joni, Anna Graves has just returned to her successful call-in radio show after several months on maternity leave. She gets along well with her much-loved co-star, Nathan Wheeler, but less so with her new producer, Heather. But all things considered - which includes a psychologically troubled, off-putting mother and a father who committed suicide - Anna is getting it together.

That is, until it comes apart in a dramatic way. One day as she's walking on the beach with Joni, a teenage boy runs toward them with what Anna believes is clear intent to harm her and/or her daughter. Anna pulls a wicked-looking comb from her purse and, in the tussle that ensues, the boy is stabbed with it and dies. The police, and for the most part, Anna's family and friends, believe she acted in self-defense; the family and friends of the victim - who live on the "other side of the tracks" near the docks - believe otherwise.

For the most part, Anna is coping; but then, new details about the boy's death are revealed, followed by text messages she receives from someone who claims to be the "Ophelia Killer" who murdered seven boys in the town some two decades ago. That person, who seemingly was content to stop at seven, was never identified. In fact, Anna's late father, a journalist, was working on the case when he died. Could it be that he or she is back? And could Anna and her daughter be in danger? In trying to sort things out, Anna strikes up a relationship with an unlikely person - one who may or may not be on her side.

Toward the end, the action begins to heat up, as new details come to light that lead to the killer's identity (I suspected who was involved, but wasn't sure exactly how). And I never really warmed up to Anna despite all that was happening to her; some of what happened stretched the limits of my believability, and further, when heroes and heroines do things that are just plain dumb (the movie version is the scared-silly female being chased by a monster who heads not for a crowded street corner but rather into a dark alley), my sympathy factor drops to zero. All in all, though, this is a very good book - and I thank the author and publisher (via NetGalley) for providing me with an advance copy to read and review.

No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan (Crooked Lane Books, June 2017); 352 pp.

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