In Schroers’ (Wrestling with the Woman in the Chair, 2016) thriller, the first in a planned trilogy, two childhood friends reunite and find themselves the targets of assassins.
Kay Morrell teaches English at a California private school. The new history teacher, Harry Ross, is her old high school chum. She hasn’t heard from him in nearly a decade, since he stopped writing letters while he was in the Marines. On the first day of the new school year, a gunman terrorizes the campus before Harry tackles and subdues him. Not long afterward, someone else tries to kill Harry, who’s in the hospital after being shot; Kay and FBI Special Agent Maizie Cabrera barely dodge the resulting gunfire. There are some people in the FBI who believe Harry is actually a rogue FBI agent who’d been presumed dead. Meanwhile, Kay struggles with her boyfriend’s marriage proposal and wonders if she’s “just friends” with Harry or if they have something more. All the while, they head toward a confrontation with the people intent on killing them. Schroers’ character-driven tale thrives on melodrama and includes enigmatic scenes of a hacker named Dorothy doing work for someone she calls “Old Man.” Who exactly Dorothy and “Old Man” are isn’t made clear until a later twist. Snippets of Kay’s and Harry’s histories flesh out their backstories; Harry, for instance, endured his parents’ deaths and bullies while in high school, and Kay’s father is revealed to be a Vietnam veteran and a marijuana-smoking hippie. But although the characters are dynamic, some scenes seem stagnant; for example, Kay repeatedly talks about how Harry’s surrogate mom, Alma Toma, wants her to “hook up” with Harry. Nevertheless, the final act offers a bit of action, and the mystery’s eventual explanation is sensational.
An often engaging thriller whose complex characters will easily carry a series.