Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Don't Be Afraid" by Rebecca Drake

Amy Moran is a real estate agent trying to hold things together as a single mother caring for her young daughter Emma. Her life becomes complicated when dead bodies start showing up at the properties she is trying to sell. The detectives on the case - Mark Juarez and Emmett Black - have opposing opinions on the case. Black is eager just to close the case, first trying to pin it on the first victim's ex-husband, then trying to pin it on Amy herself. Juarez, who is battling both professional and personal issues, is more keen to look at the case from all angles. Of course, we the reader know that the real killer is a madman with a twisted past and a deadly fixation on poor Amy.

"Don't Be Afraid" is a comfortably predictable thriller that neatly checks off all the requirements of the genre. Innocent, overly naive female protagonist. Main detective with a personal issue affecting his personal and professional life. Psycho with mother issues who likes to masturbate and kill people (though not necessarily in that order). Bigoted other detective too lazy to investigate the case properly. Lightly developed ancillary characters who serve to either be potential victims or potential suspects. I easily predicted each new step the story took. On the positive side, the relationship between Amy and her daughter is believably developed. I even laughed a couple of times at Emma's comments and behaviour. It seemed real. It made for a nice change - young children in books can often be irritating.

Similarly, I was impressed by the restrained tackling of the romantic subplot. Amy actually seems more concerned by the sinister events surrounding her rather than focussed on whether or not a hunky guy likes her. And while I easily figured out Mark Juarez's personal issue, it was something you don't usually find in a thriller of this sort. Despite the familiarity of much of the plotting, the author should be commended for at least trying not to always go the most obvious route.

At the time of reading this, I had put my back out and was in quite a lot of pain. When I wasn't unconscious due to a myriad of different painkillers, I would pick this up and read a couple of chapters and momentarily forget how much pain I was in. Sometimes, that's all you need from a book.

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