THIEF RIVER FALLS by Brian Freeman


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After a runaway boy shows up at her home in rural Minnesota, thriller writer Lisa Power is pulled into a murder plot that is eerily similar to the one in her breakthrough bestseller.

The frightened boy, who is about 10 years old, is unable to say what he is running from because he can't remember anything, including his name. A former nurse, the now famous Lisa takes him in, naming him Purdue (it's from a French word for "lost," she explains). She also gave that name to the boy in her bestseller, in which bad guys bury him alive after he witnesses a killing. As bits and pieces of the real-life boy's memory return and the threat to him becomes clear, Lisa encounters cops who are not good and friends who are not trustworthy—including one who tells her not to make things hard on herself because "all they want is the boy." For Lisa, there seems to be no escape from the "Dark Star" she has been living under since two car accidents, a stroke, and a suicide claimed everyone in her family but her twin brother—who hasn't been heard from in years. Even if Lisa does give the runaway boy and the boy in the book the same name, she seems largely oblivious to the ties between her fiction and her reality. That's odd considering the pains Freeman (The Crooked Street, 2019, etc.) takes to link them via excerpts of Lisa's novel. His own plot is both shaky and stale, characterizations are not his strong suit, and he seems to have little understanding of how young boys speak.

A workmanlike thriller ruled by clichés and missed connections.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5420-9336-1
Page count: 317pp
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2019


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