Gunhus delivers a taut supernatural thriller with his first novel.
After causing a car accident that killed a little girl, Jack Tremont abandoned his fast-paced career and relocated his family from Orange County, Calif., to Prescott City, Md. He planned to devote more time to parenting his own little girls, Becky and Sarah, while his wife, Lauren, works as a surgeon. When a psychopath named Nate Huckley tries to kidnap Sarah at a rest stop, the encounter ends in a frightening car chase that leaves Huckley in a coma. Jack is certain he saw a tied-up girl fall out of Huckley’s trunk during the crash, but the local police insist otherwise. Afterward, Sarah seems to hear Huckley speaking to her from his hospital room. Jack becomes convinced his daughter’s life is in danger, but no one believes him—not his best friend, Max; not Sherriff Janney; and not the hospital’s psychiatrist, Dr. Moran. Only Native American, ex–special forces operative Joseph Lonetree seems to share Jack’s “delusion.” Turns out several prominent citizens of Prescott City hide an ancient, evil secret, and when Nate Huckley wakes from his coma, there will be no stopping him from taking Sarah. Readers will sympathize with Jack and Lauren living through every parent’s worst nightmare: the inability to protect one’s child. Jack’s plight moves beyond desperation when the police won’t help, and almost everyone he knows and trusts is against him. Gunhus wisely lets readers in on certain secrets before Jack and Lauren are privy to them, while hiding others until the last moment. The novel further builds tension by following many characters via an omniscient point of view. After an especially exciting scene, the narrative will suddenly pivot to follow the action elsewhere, pursuing another crescendo. Though the ancient evil revealed at the end of the book is not particularly original, the powerful Nate Huckley terrifies, and the assorted cast of human antagonists adds to the white-knuckle tension.
All the chops of an action-packed horror tale.