A taut thriller about Angel, a 14-year-old who is pursued by a man who has a deadly need to silence her.
In a keenly evoked California desert setting, Angel desperately seeks to escape. Inadvertently, she finds help with a group of caring Mexican-American neighbors, who refuse to let her face her nemesis alone. A loner, Angel’s been homeschooled by a meth-addict mother who has hooked up with a “long string of abusive boyfriends picked with the accuracy of a heat-seeking missile.” Her latest, Scotty, is a doozy, and when Angel finds her mom buried in the desert, he realizes she can put him behind bars. A hunter of contraband, he proceeds to use all his wiles to keep her quiet. Neighbor Abuela makes a plan to help her escape, resulting in the entire family becoming targets. Angel struggles with trust, guilt and maintaining her focus even as she is frightened to death. Suspense never lets up, as the third-person narrator monitors Scotty’s pursuit when Angel doesn’t. Kids and their teacher at a Head Start classroom provide a sense of normalcy and yet are clearly potential victims, upping the ante even more. The small, decaying towns, the Salton Sea and the desert heat provide a vivid backdrop for the unfolding drama. Angel is a tough heroine who needs help but knows if she accepts it, she is risking other lives, too.Relentless, heart-stopping suspense. (Thriller. 12 & up)