Gardiner’s latest stand-alone revisits the story of Thelma and Louise, with Thelma played by a professional skip tracer and Louise by a refugee from kindergarten.
As she escaped a burning building five years ago, Sarah Keller promised her dying sister, Bethany, that she’d protect Bethany’s daughter Zoe from the monstrous Worthes, the polygamous family of self-anointed prophets—“white trash mafia who got a bad dose of God”—into which Bethany had unwisely married. With the unexpected help of Deputy Marshal Michael Lawless, Sarah succeeded in going off the grid in Oklahoma City and raising the little girl as her own. When a series of freak accidents outs Sarah and Zoe and makes national headlines, imprisoned patriarch Eldrick Worthe, whose desire to recover Zoe for their family is intensified by darker motives, sends Grissom Briggs, the Worthes’ “Shattering Angel,” after Sarah, together with two of Eldrick’s granddaughters, Fell and Reavy, to serve as his “wives of the wind” and well-armed wingmen. Sarah, whose experience as a skip tracer has taught her a bit about vanishing without a trace, grabs Zoe, phones Lawless and heads to Roswell, N.M., where he’s arranged a more secure hideout for her. But “more secure” is only a relative term when you’re pursued by avenging angels with shotguns, and Sarah’s flight leaves a blood-soaked trail behind her. Realizing eventually that she can’t remain on the run indefinitely, Sarah hatches a scheme to turn the Worthes against each other. A series of expertly planned surprises awaits both the pursuers and their prey.
If you can accept the preposterous setup, the ruthlessly two-dimensional villains and the world’s most uncomplaining 5-year-old, Gardiner (Ransom River, 2012, etc.) will keep you up half the night with nonstop action and nary a pause for breath.