December 11th, 2009

there!, Hello

A Breezy Supernatural Thriller

79) Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber (2006, Ballantine Books, 198 pages)
Susan Young receives the worst phone call imaginable, a stranger has abducted her daughter and is demanding she play a sort of follow the leads game through the winter swept back roads of Massachusetts. Of course, she does as bid; this is her infant child, after all. What starts as a seemingly straight thriller story soon mutates into a supernatural ride: this kidnapper may or may not be somehow related to a two hundred year old child murderer, and may or may not be linked to a dark childhood secret shared between Susan and her disappeared husband.

The novel is a blend of the styles of early Koontz and later Morrell; Shreiber tells a tale in short chapters, at a fast forward speed. And yet I still found myself skimming passages without being lost. The story is set in Massachusetts, but it's not quite the place I recognize (though there is a single Dunkin Donuts truck, hee hee). It's a fair entertainment, but one that did not quite stick with me. For my money, these characters feel a little too much like pawns in a red-lining plot engine.