A relaxing excursion into the mountains turns into a nightmare when a New York family must face crazed, revenge-seeking killers in this debut thriller.
Film and TV star Ed Savage is looking forward to getting away to Black Ridge Falls with his extended family. He hopes it’ll ease tensions with his wife, Marlo, whose recent failed audition led to her anger-tinged envy of her husband’s success. An impatient Ed leaves early with Marlo; their youngest daughter, 6-year-old Lisa; and Marlo’s brother Simon Winchester. Unfortunately, things are bad almost immediately: Simon and Lisa both disappear right before a strange man attacks Marlo. The man, attempting to flee with the woman, crashes the family’s RV, with Marlo winding up in an induced coma. Cops subsequently arrest Ed, sure he was driving the RV, and the others remain missing. Hearing what’s happened, Lisa’s big sister, Ava, and cousin Heather Savage grab boyfriends and friends, pile into another RV, and head up to the mountains. No one’s prepared for the murderous group of people awaiting them, unmistakably targeting the Savages in retribution for a couple killed years ago. The family fights back, but while some make it home, they aren’t yet safe—one or more of the culprits is still alive. Despite the book being split into three sections, Roberts’ narrative is seamless, simply moving the frights back to New York and later a superyacht. Part 1, just over half the book, is the most invigorating. Family members/friends falling victim to brutal murders is merely the start: there’s also a mudslide-generating storm and tabloid sister-reporters determined to find dirt on Ed, a reputed philanderer. The second part follows suit, essentially a second wave of assaults, further delving into the baddies’ motive (possibly relevant to Ed’s wealthy dad, Nathan) and adding a new, more dangerous foe. The author only falters on the comparatively short final part, chock full of twists and revelations, which feels as if Roberts is speeding to the end, leaving too many unanswered questions in his wake. Nevertheless, characters boast riveting backgrounds, from Ed’s TV career consisting predominantly of hosting reality series to the reason Simon was at one point institutionalized.
Ruthless killers spark terrifying scenes throughout even if the ending remains a bit incomplete.